It is an ill wind that blows no good: just as bad weather saved England from the Armada, a case might be made that a wet summer may play a part in saving England (and Wales) from ‘inappropriate development’. After all, what else to do on a cold, wet Monday evening than go and warm the passions into saving your prized piece of inherited village green space. All over the country action groups are springing up to save or befriend precious areas of green sward.
And so it was, that at dead on the dot of 7pm tonight, a rush of Rawdon locals swarmed into St Peter’s School Hall to hear an update from the newly formed Rawdon Billing Action Group (RBAG): eight, planning rookies, who have vowed to grapple with the tangle of planning laws and Leeds City strategy documents, in order to save the Billing from development.
Their main strategy is to try and prove that Rawdon Billing is deserving of its green belt status. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has the following to say on green belt:
79. The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.
80. Green Belt serves five purposes:
• to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
• to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
• to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
• to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
• to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
RBAG are therefore making the case, in a report, that Rawdon Billing meets these criteria. But they need help in doing so, and appealed to members of the audience to come forward if they could help in anyway, but especially if they could help with the following:-
- Spare time
- Transport/highways planning/modelling
- Ground conditions/drainage/flooding
- Local history
- Town planning
Audience reaction showed that people want to get involved, but need to know what they can do specifically; especially if they are not an ecologist or an historian or an Olympic athlete. One lady suggested that people were asked if they would go door to door explaining to people what is happening, as many did not know. Another, building on this idea, put forward that the website had a list of streets people could sign up to campaign in.
At 8.30pm, passions warmed, and quest in view, the crowd dispersed into the grey, cold evening, petition signed and poster in hand. They say that Paul Revere was successful, because he knew everyone and everyone knew him, and thus, when he warned the ‘British were coming’, he’s already banked his credibility, and people acted immediately. It is to be hoped RBAG are building the same investment.