Earlier this year, Spelthorne Borough Council published a consultation called ‘Local Green Space Assessment Methodology’. Spelthorne has always maintained they understand how important green spaces are but this document sets out to change the assessment of how important they are.
When shared on social media recently there was outcry. The closing date for comments was June 4th and took many by surprise including Sunbury Matters.
If adopted, this methodology could have dramatic consequences for Spelthorne and Sunbury. It would strip 71 green spaces of Protected Urban Open Spaces status. In Sunbury, these include Cedars Recreation Ground, Flower Pot Green, Spelthorne Grove, the Former line of the Lower Sunbury Relief Road, Beechwood Avenue/Ashridge Way, Belgrave Road/Batavia Road, Lime Crescent, Catherine Drive, Heathcroft Avenue, the land at Sunbury Cross between M3 and railway (skate park) as well as green spaces at Sunbury Manor School, Springfield CF & Middle School and St Paul’s School.
Instead, the Council proposes much more onerous criteria for protection as Local Green Space (LGS). These criteria are beauty, recreational value, richness of wildlife, tranquillity and historical significance and uses a points system.
Opposition parties in the council carried out a detailed study applying the Council’s own criteria to the currently protected 71 sites to assess the implications. We are told that this study found that at least 70 out of 71 will fail to meet the new criteria. The fear is that without protected status this would open them up to development.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Surrey endorsed the report as “very comprehensive, compelling and extremely well-argued”, denoted the new methodology as “simply wrong, a hugely retrograde step for the Borough and very poor Planning” and urged the Council “to fundamentally reconsider their approach.”
In the light of these findings, a cross party petition was set up to raise awareness amongst the public in order to protect our local green spaces. In a very short period of time the petition garnered over 2000 signatures. If you want to add your name and help protect our green spaces for todays and future generations you can still add your name:
We hear constantly about the decline in air quality and demise of wildlife due to loss of wilderness. We are seeing developments springing up everywhere (and subsequent loss of trees) in order to reach a vast annual housing target. We are facing irreversible climate change. We need to do something.
A link to the Council methodology and to the countering study can also be found on the petition site.