Jo Swinson MP has urged the Scottish Government to review the recent green belt planning decisions and put democracy back into the process.
Jo expressed her concerns to the First Minister following a Scottish Government Reporter’s verdict that several areas of green belt land across East Dunbartonshire – including Meadowburn Avenue and Claddens East in Lenzie, Kelvin View in Torrance and partial areas of Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs – be released to developers.
The decision comes despite opposition from the Council and local residents to the removal of green belt status, so Jo has asked Alex Salmond to give objective consideration of the proposals in the form of a Ministerial review.
Commenting, Jo Swinson said:
“East Dunbartonshire residents’ views have been ignored in the Reporter’s decision to release precious green belt land across East Dunbartonshire. Despite the Council receiving around 500 objections from local people to the development of green spaces in Lenzie, Torrance and Bishopbriggs, the overwhelming opposition of local people has been overruled by an unelected official.
“Now that the Council have been forced into adopting the Reporter’s recommendations to release land at sites across East Dunbartonshire, local campaigners are taking the fight to save our precious green spaces to the Scottish Parliament. I have urged First Minister Alex Salmond to review this decision and examine the flawed and undemocratic planning system which has bypassed the views of local people and the Council.”
For more information and links to the Reporter’s conclusions, visit the Lenzie South Green Belt campaign website: www.lsgb.org.uk
The full text of Jo Swinson’s letter to Alex Salmond is below:
It is with great disappointment that I find myself writing to you with regard to the Scottish Government Reporter’s Local Plan 2 Examination Report for East Dunbartonshire. I am specifically concerned about the recommendations to remove land from the green belt to allow development at Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs, Meadowburn and Claddens East in Lenzie, and Kelvin View, Torrance.
The Council’s local development plan has a clear and sensible approach. Moreover, it was designed with particular attention to the local area and a depth of understanding I do not see in the Reporter’s decision. The suggestions in the original plan are fully in line with the 2010 ‘Scottish Planning Policy’. This states that green belt designation serves three main purposes:
• “to direct planned growth to the most appropriate locations and support regeneration;
• to protect and enhance the quality, character, landscape setting and identity of towns and cities;
• to protect and give access to open space within and around towns and cities.”
I fail to see how the proposals in the Council’s Local Plan are not in keeping with these principles. Moreover, I can see numerous ways in which the Reporter’s recommendations are in direct contradiction with the laudable principles the local Council aims to achieve.
In addition, the 2004 Green Belt policy states that “East Dunbartonshire is not expected to provide any release of green field sites to allow for housing development, partly because of existing unimplemented allocation.” It seems to me, however, that East Dunbartonshire Council is being asked to do exactly that. I can find no document which supersedes and overturns this guidance.
I feel strongly that my constituents’ views are being ignored and ask that you authorise a ministerial review of the proposals, as I believe that an objective consideration would side with the original Council Plan and preserve the green belt land. When the decision to reject the Council’s plans took place around 500 objections were registered with East Dunbartonshire Council – including my own which I have enclosed and would urge you to consider. I’m sure you will agree that this is a significant number.
The fact that the opinion of unelected reporters’ is valued more highly than that of residents and local elected officials defies common sense and is leaving my constituents feeling disregarded and ineffectual. Yet again, the views of residents and the local council are being overruled by an unelected official, despite overwhelming opposition. I urge you to consider my arguments, and put the democracy back in to Scottish development planning.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Jo Swinson MP