Newbury development and food growing

david bangs dave.bangs at
Sun Apr 15 10:31:17 BST 2012


The Newbury development is a spin off / consequence of the Newbury Bypass (which I am sure you opposed)...and the Newbury Bypass was part of a roads policy which served the interests of capital, not of ordinary folk. That is, it served/serves to concentrate capital in regions and sub-regions most favourable for the expense of other regions (both within the UK, Europe, and globally) and at the expense of nature. 

The proposed Newbury development is at the junction of the M4 ('silicone valley') corridor and the A34 (Solent/Oxford/midlands) corridor. That is the reason for its landscape's vulnerability...and its ancient riverine and woodland landscapes - of massive cultural importance - are ignored.

Watership Down lies over 4 miles to the south and is entirely irrelevant...a bit of journalistic hyperbole...

The Newbury Sandleford developmemt is proposed in a landscape which is a palimpsest of little woods, streams and open land. It is the last place one would rationally choose to put a major built development.

Agricultural land in Britain relative to population IS scarce. Much of that land is in the middling and lower grades. Here in Sussex the higher grades (two and one) are on the coastal plain and on bands of ground which are subject to full-on built development pressures and (in the former case and in the long run) from climate change sea level rise.

We could and should increase the footprint of productive food growing land but that needs be done in a very considered and planned fashion to prevent it taking place at the expense of nature and historic cultural landscapes.

I, too, hated the programme...and turned it off...but for different reasons to you. There was no mention (if I recall correctly) of affordable housing or the kind of employment opportunities, and the opponent of the housing was very much a local plummy type...and no attempt to discuss the issue in larger terms was made. The fact of market-based uneven and combined development was taken as a kind of inevitable 'truth',...not something which must be challenged.,

Your response worries me and reminds me of something I've always hated in Cahill's "Who Owns Britain" book...and which your argument reflects. His notion is that a democratic re-structuring of land ownership will release all the 'wasted', under-utilised land in Britain for increased exploitation...his notion is that the amount of land is not (part of) the problem, if only it were democratically though we are living on the edge of the 'empty' American prairies before the 19th century land rush...not on islands jam-packed and super-exploited by 250 years of capitalism at the expense of most of the rest of the world..

I start from the opposite standpoint to Cahill...There is far too little land...and both nature, built development and food growing are driven into destructive competition by the capitalist conditions of its exploitation.

The case for land reform is a case for the democratic resolution of these competitions on all spatial scales, NOT a case for some atavistic release of our developmental energies anywhere that goes...


Dave Bangs 

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: james armstrong 
  To: TLIO list ; diggers 
  Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:23 AM
  Subject: [TheLandIsOurs] BBC bias


  The BBC are as thick as two short planks. Either that or  propagandists.  

  -what Franz Fanon calls , ‘bewilderers’

  Helen Marks on ‘Open country’ BBC Radio 4 , 14th April, said ,in the context of the plan to

  build 1000 new houses near Newbury 

  “Agricultural  land is scarce. ”  without any qualifications, (or source)  

  The truth is that of the UK’s total 60 million acres, 46million are agricultural use.

  Some 77%. 

  These figures are  derived from Annual Abstract  after converting  square kilometres into

  Hectares – (but why should I give sources when BBC doesn’t?) 

  Three members of Council  for Protection of Rural England opposed the plan on air .

  Without declaring  their interest as landowners? As multiple houseowners, as well-housed people?  Only one acknowledged his membership of CPRE.

  (I suggest that CPRE engineered the whole BBC programme  as NFU regularly do) 

  None identified or suggested a  specific alternative site for the new houses. 

  No homeless people were interviewed .

  Fictional characters, rabbits,  from Watership Down  were  quoted at length.  

   A planning officer stated the case for developing  this site- it adjoined houses and it was near a new  shopping precinct. 

  The ignorance of the BBC is breathtaking - of  the unqualified statement that ‘agricultural land is scarce.’ (no mention of that agriculture uses 77 per cent of all UK land, or of the 1million acres of pony paddocks, or 1million acres of set aside  etc. )

  Also interests should be declared -  the interest of the CPRE people was not, so   we don’t know  if those interviewed are well-hoiused or multiple housed and in no  need of new houses . They  should  detail exactly where the alternative sites are for each of the 1,000  houses if not on Watership Down’ 


  A Radio 4  ‘ Open Country ‘ programme devoted to housing  gave  no background to the issue, not the  2million backlog of unbuilt houses needed as identified by Barker nor the record low numbers  built since the Barker Review, nor of out of reach prices…... 

  It was  wrong to cast the  planning officer as an advocate for new houses –  the planning decision represents the views of   CPRE members as well as of other people including  those needing housing.

  The voice of the homeless , and of the house-needy , of selfbuilders seeking sites,  and of those  informed of the national housing issues and of  those advocating  repopulating the deserted English countryside  is needed and was missing .

  Such  programmes as this  demonstrate institutional bias , by the public services broadcasting medium.  And  the influence of  lobby  groups  to mould the public  policy. 

  But what can you expect from a programme which quotes Hazel and Fiver , two fictional rabbits,  and the   people who need houses were not heard?   

  TLIO AND DIGGERS  absolutely need to focus on  Open Country, Country File , Farming Today etc with a view to  creating  opportunities for and being heard on  programmes  which better inform people about  land matters and  which expose lobbyiong  by powerful interests.  

  I feel another leaflet coming on.   James 

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