[Diggers350] Newbury development and food growing

james armstrong james36armstrong at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 19 18:34:22 BST 2012


agree with much of what you say.

And like to
think of myself as atavistic – that sounds vaguely feral and  get up and gol

seriously,  I always ask nimby’s  first , are you well housed? 

First I should
declare an interest. Mine is that I am well housed and snug,  with no mortgage or rent to pay,  so I would never presume to  tell someone in housing need that butterflies
 and foxes come first, and that the
supply of new houses must be curtailed so you will just have to suffer.


where exactly  would you place each of
the 1,000 proposed new houses to be built?

Will you
tell that to the 1,000 families  who
won’t be housed if they are not built.


I am
looking at the  figures for new house
supply for 2010 and it is dire. 136,000 units.

With the backlog
of unbuilt houses the catch up figure Kate Barker quotes is  352,000 new houses each year.   See the Barker Review .


I don’t
think that “ There is far too little land” is a good starting point, for
obvious reasons. 

Also ‘increasing
the footprint of food growing land’  is
not on the radar of  policy makers- not
while land use in UK includes - 1.3 million acres of
pony paddocks,and (recently) I million acres of set aside and now  1 million acres ? of oil seed rape some of
which goes to the £81million Norfolk bio-fuels plant of British Sugar. 


We have a long
way to go before we need to eat into
food growing land  to build houses. (Tho
Duchy of Cornwall has gobbled up Fordington Fields , Middle Farm and Poundbury
farm   for the horror at  Poundbury,  and without so much as a whimper from NFU or
Farming Today) 

And 10million cats
and 10 million dogs and 1 million horses will have to go when there is genuine
food security problem .  

Of course
there is no such thing as ‘waste’ land.  
I don’t confuse prairies with Dorchester, although the countryside here is  deserted of workers and farmers. 2 Rows of  former farmworkers’ cottages lie abandoned,
with dairy buildings and until recently 
one  former farm house.    I have visited 18 deserted  stone age or medieval  settlements around here, and know of another

appreciate your analysis  “The case for
land reform is a case for the democratic resolution of these competitions on
all spatial scales,”      and I ask
exactly where you position the 1,000 new houses    “

And I agree
the danger of  romantic ideas of peasant farming.
My vision is  reforming control of the land- not
changing the use of the land- so that monopolists stop exploiting people’s
access and social needs ..   


Kevin has
some funny ideas among which is that 
giving individuals  ownership of
land provides them with an asset against which they can borrow capital - oh my!

I  like your analysis , that capital exploits land  for profit 
and not on account of agriculture, development and nature, and I deduce the
need is to  strike the balance according
to  reason and equity not according to

 I have prepared a pamphlet on housing ,plugging  council housing and team self build  which I’d like your ideas on if you have time
to read and comment  and input?    Cheers mate ,  James 

To: TheLandIsOurs at yahoogroups.com; diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
From: dave.bangs at virgin.net
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 10:31:17 +0100
Subject: [Diggers350] Newbury development and food growing




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 profit...at 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 

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 
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 owned....as 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 
Dave Bangs 

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  james armstrong 
  To: TLIO list ; diggers 
  Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:23 
  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 
  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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