the other travellers came walking down the track and they never went further and they never went back
On a warm sunny afternoon, three of the team set of to interview a willing developer to get a feel how it might be to walk a mile in his shoes.
“What you have to understand is you must be quite stupid ” he says “if you believe vast swathes of our landscape has been “concreted over“, here in Kent, or elsewhere. It’s bullshit.”
He asks the three of us how much Folkestone & Hythe district is built on, we own up to our ignorance. It’s 8%
When examined under the microscope of scrutiny, it appears that the data supports the developers claims.
“All these NIMBYS running around telling anyone who will listen to their “alternative facts“, are killing the truth. If we developers did that we’d be crucified.”
“Nimby’s are wilfully blind” he continues “what they have to remember is the volume of influence of rural/urban development, of course it has an impact via noise, pollution and infrastructure for example, I except that, but we do our best to mitigate that with greener material and technologies. Each of us spend a decisive amount more time surrounded by, moving in, living in the built environment, and this does have a significant psychological effect on each of us leading us to overestimate how much of it there is, just like so many NIMBYS do.“
According to Corine Land Cover data, it turns out that the developer has a valid empirical point. Claims that the UK is being “concreted over” is way of the mark. Building land cover data from Ordnance Survey informed by Corine and Dr Alasdair Rae from the Urban Studies and Planning Department at the University of Sheffield, very clearly shows buildings cover less of Britain than the land revealed when the tide goes out; which to our minds is quite an astonishing fact.
The Corine land cover data has been divided into four broad categories by :
farmland – pastures, arable land, orchards, vineyards et cetera
natural – moors, forests, lakes, grasslands et cetera
built on – buildings, roads, airports, quarries et cetera
green urban – parks, gardens, golf courses, football pitches et cetera
When taken as whole for the UK, our animated developer tells us just 5.9% of the UK is built on. He asks us if 10% would be too much, to be built on. We counter with the fact that the birth rate is at its lowest in the last 10 years and he better wait till things pick up in the bedroom department.
“Funny guys, I’ll remember that.” he says grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“The top three built on districts in Kent?” we feel like naughty school boys who forgot to do their homework “Dartford at 32%, Thanet at 27% and Gravesham at 21%.” came his loud reply “Apart from Tonbridge & Malling (14%) none of the other eight remaining districts reaches double digits.“
He’s looking pleased as punch with himself. And without taking a breath he’s off again.
“Dartford, Thanet and Gravesham residents may have good reason to say no to more building and if I lived in one of them, to right I’d be a NIMBY.“
Now into his groove, he asks
“As for the other eight districts in the county, the land built upon is under 10%, so why shouldn’t we developers build on any available land brownfield and greenfield? If farmers want to sell and Councils give permission to us developers, it’s legal, there are those who could give more “affordable housing“
“Development is the price of progress and NIMBYS have got to get over it“,
says our all cylinder firing developer.
“Also another bug bear is the way NIMBYS always remind you that summer’s will be drier and warmer, but forget to add in the bit about milder wetter winters and that’s where we have to find the solutions to conserve water and the industry is working on it and made huge strides.”
Without warning he stops and completely tangential throws in a curve ball question:
“Have you ever listened to Love Over Gold by Dire Straits and the first track Telegraph Rd? The lyrics narrate a tale of changing land development over a span of many decades, that’s life, that’s progress and neither me nor any NIMBY is going to stop it. Delay yes, stop no.”
Some of the reasons given by our developer were in our opinion rather lame, others stood up under closer scrutiny. NIMBYS, will have to come up with new and innovative arguments, if they wish to delay or even stop development. The same tired arguments need re-inventing and based on sound evidence.
As we headed to the pub; bathed in warm summer sunshine, we listened to the song our developer mentioned, and he has a point, the lyrics are quite apt and give a fair reflection of development, however, we’ll leave you to decide that:
The Shepwayvox Team -Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful
Copyright for images and data rests with the European Commission; Acknowledgement: Produced by the University of Leicester, The Centre for Landscape and Climate Research and Specto Natura and supported by Defra and the European Environment Agency under Grant Agreement 3541/B2012/R0-GIO/EEA.55055 with funding by the European Union.