Battles take many forms, from the bloody and muddy fields of hand to hand combat through to the air conditioned and be-wigged court rooms of legal wrangling. And tomorrow we take our parts in the dance that is a Public Inquiry into the refusal of permission to flood my village with an unsustainable number of houses.
I guess before we reach the end of this post someone is going to yell NIMBY. That’s ok. It is the knee-jerk reaction to anyone who doesn’t wish to see their landscape and community reduced to profit centres for large corporates, or speak out against governments wishing to build bigger faster railways through ever scarcer ancient woodland.
How we relate to and interact with our environment defines us. Those who seek dominion over that which surrounds them reduce each landscape, each creature, to little more than items on a balance sheet. That another field is tarmac’d over, that a viewpoint loses it’s green outlook for one of bland brick and tile, that a small river is no longer allowed to flood a green corner but has to be contained in overspill bunds means little to the person happy to sit a little longer in affluent four wheel air conditioned hifi comfort, in the traffic congestion a small B-road is unable to flow away. But I see the hill, and the stream, and the field, and the vole, and the kestrel.
Tomorrow the Public Inquiry starts. I will be there representing the village and the villagers, who went to great lengths to assess and identify their community need for a handful of affordable homes, with the thought that Localism means something. The battle will be between the county and the developer, and until called to speak I’ll sit and witness as they debate the housing land supply and exchange legal hand grenades and seek points of procedure.
In the great scheme of things a hundred or so new houses isn’t going to change their world, but an increase in the size of the village of nearly fifteen percent without any thought to shops, schools, doctors, dentists, employment, flooding, traffic, recreation amenity… Someone said development has to be sustainable, but as far as I can tell nobody has yet decided what sustainable actually means. And that’s quite scary.