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We may have won a victory in getting Newcastle Council to remove the Salters Lane site from the plan and to cut the number of houses to go on green belt, but they are still planning to allow the developers to build 6,000 houses on the green belt. So the struggle carries on!

Gateshead and Newcastle’s draft plan has generated huge opposition – they received 15,000 submissions from residents and organisations – a heartening figure which shows the strength of feeling and we must build on this. I even see that neighbours Sunderland City Council have put in an objection because the plan “would undermine the integrity of the green belt”.

The Save Gosforth Wildlife campaign meeting tomorrow night will agree what next, with plans for immediate work to stop the planning application from Bellway to build on land to the north of the reserve – going to North Tyneside Council planning committee this month. We then need to keep the pressure up during the assessment of the plan by Newcastle and Gateshead council officers in the next month or so (a fuller technical site assessment exercise). An amended plan will then be published for a second stage of consultation from June – for 3 months. A revised plan will be developed following the consultation and there will then be a statutory consultation for 6 weeks from November. After this a further revised plan will be submitted to the Government for formal inspection by an independent planning inspector. The Councils’ aim is to have the final plan approved in Autumn 2013.

Linking up with all the campaign groups fighting this plan for green belt land grab and appalling demolition of good terraced housing (especially in Gateshead) is vital across both sides of the river and Greens are involved in several.

What we as Greens offer is a genuine alternative to their crazed plan to magic up rates of housing, retail and office development, and of population increase especially through more students, that are all higher than in the last decade of economic boom! There is the all-pervasive desperation to get economic growth going again – at a rate which even the councils’ expert report concedes is “fairly ambitious” – more like wildly unrealistic!

We need a stable local and regional economy – to use this economic crisis to move to a steady-state economy where we are prioritising the tasks urgently needed to move to a way of life consuming less – not just carbon (though that is vital – both because of climate change and also peak oil) but all resources and energy. A world where we will have in many ways a higher quality of life – after all who wants to sit in massive traffic jams, having to commute to work, when we could plan for cities, towns and villages where we can live, work and do most of the other things that give our lives their real value – including access to green space.

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