Councillor’s Corner. Protecting our open green spaces. By Gillian Ford

Councillor Gillian Ford writes this week in Councillor’s corner.

We are delighted our campaigning has been successful in getting Havering’s Administration to realise the benefits of open green space, with their confirmation to preserve Gooshcays Green and New Zealand Way.

The Leader of the Council states they are a listening Administration, but they appear to have their fingers in their ears in regard to the Upminster Pitch & Putt site.”

Councillor Gillian Ford.

Published in the July Living magazine a headline quoted: “Regeneration – Local homes for local people – Protecting existing, and creating, new green spaces. And the quote “We want to make sure that local people get to enjoy the outdoor environment, as much as possible”.

If they stand by their mantra of protecting existing green spaces, why is it that the Administration are consulting on the Appropriation and Disposal of Hall Lane Upminster Pitch & Putt, to sell the site to their own housing company Mercury Land Holdings Ltd, for the development of flats and houses? How can this be protecting?

All local authorities are expected to be delivering against the UN Sustainability Goals, including Goal 13 to take urgent action, to combat climate change and its impacts. 

We need to be developing and enhancing carbon sinks, across the borough. Yes there has been some tree planting, but we need to consider how much more we can do in the natural environment, in terms of its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and to seriously consider the retention, protection, and enhancement of sites that add value to our footprint.

One of the fundamental elements of mitigating against carbon dioxide, is the growing of trees, but this Administration wants to fell trees, which goes completely against the grain of improving air quality.

It would also appear that the Administration, do not understand the value of flora and fauna, the environment residents live in, and the unique features of our communities. How does taking away a public open space, meet residents needs as suggested in the quote from the Living Magazine “to make sure that local people get to enjoy the outdoor environment as much as possible”.”

Upminster Pitch & Putt is a unique asset to the borough that has been mis-managed, underdeveloped, undersold and misunderstood. Why develop a site that is a public asset, when there are brownfield sites that could provide the desired housing opportunities, and the growth areas, the borough needs to be delivering? 

This Council really needs to take a hard look at itself,and think about what mark it will make on the borough, and the individual role we will all have played towards it. Yes we can deliver housing on brownfield sites, and yes we can retain open green spaces at the same time. Concreting over, and developing on green space, is irreversible, and a loss, I would not want to be remembered for.

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