Residents declare “our green spaces are not for sale”

Protesters, numbering approximately 150, gathered outside Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s offices on Wednesday evening (17/11/2021), sharing their message that ‘our green spaces are not for sale’.

The borough council is currently at the ‘issues and options’ stage of drawing up a new Local Plan, a policy document which will steer the council’s development, planning, and regeneration activity for the next couple of decades. An earlier consultation process, aiming to agree a joint Local Plan with neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent City Council, was abandoned at the start of the year.

The borough council’s website states: “The plan will set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for conserving and enhancing the natural and historic environment, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and achieving well designed places.” (See: https://www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/planning-policy/local-plan)

Protesters at Wednesday evening’s demonstration outside Castle House in Queen’s Gardens listened to a number of speakers, representing a variety of organisations and community groups, all opposed to housing development on various greenfield sites across the borough.

Duncan Hindmarch said: “I’m representing Save Our Green Space Newcastle Staffs. We’re a group that are campaigning to save the beautiful Keele golf course from the council’s plans to develop it. We’ve seen the documents, which show they’re going to be putting up to 1200 houses on there and we’re totally against that. It’s a beautiful site. We urge everybody to go and visit it. It will take your breath away. Let’s save our green space.”

former Keele golf course
The former Keele golf course, overlooking Silverdale. An earlier consultation scoping exercise suggested that well over 1,000 new homes could be built on this popular greenfield site. Photo: Jerome Whittingham @photomoments.

A mum of two from Bradwell said: “I’m here to represent Bradwell because the council are trying to sell our crematorium fields, which is a very valuable community space used by lots of people in Bradwell. We have a very overloaded infrastructure. We cannot tolerate any more houses in our area. And we will not stand to lose our green space, which is such a valuable space for us.”

Councillor Andrew Fox-Hewitt (Labour), elected councillor for Bradwell, said: “We’re just about to walk into the council meeting tonight, where amongst other things, the environment and nature and biodiversity is going to be discussed. We’re sending a clear message that the people of this borough are fed up seeing green spaces marketed. They’re fed up of having consultations and public opinion ignored. And we are here to say to the administration, the Conservative administration, that planning should be done with people, not to people, and not against people.”

Aidan, a borough resident, said: “I want to send the council a message today that says ‘we will not stand for them building on our greenfield sites’. We want more scrutiny in council, so that actually the public consultation is effective, and that we want our democracy back effectively. And that we want people to be listening to what the people of Newcastle are saying, which is saying that ‘we don’t want these places being built on’. We want our greenfield sites to be protected for future generations, and the infrastructure just isn’t there. This is to make a quick buck and we won’t stand for it.”

The council’s consultation process opened on 1st November, and runs until 5pm on 13th December 2021. To participate in the consultation process, follow: https://www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/planning-policy/local-plan/2