National planning guidance states the Green Belt should provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas but should also: provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population; retain attractive landscapes and enhance landscapes near to where people live; and secure nature conservation interest.
Sometimes these objectives conflict and need to be balanced.
In recent years, several sites along Barnet Lane have been enclosed and removed from the publicly accessible Green Belt.
Most recently, at Old Stationers Field, Barnet Council has permitted part of Barnet Playing Fields to be privatised for use as a commercial sports facility, incorporating a pavilion, all weather pitch, flood lighting, security fencing etc.
We believe that the creeping enclosure of sections of Green Belt land has already progressed too far and that a line needs to be drawn.
Sometimes these objectives conflict and need to be balanced
In Autumn 2010, Ravenscroft School applied for planning consent to appropriate for private use, and urbanise, a section of virgin public Green Belt land within the broad meadow that forms part of the Dollis Valley.The Barnet Society - with the London Wildlife Trust and others - raised the strongest objections on the grounds that the proposal was not only highly detrimental, both to wildlife and to the general public, but also unwarranted.
Ravenscroft School, which already has several football pitches within the school site, has the luxury of access to at least fifteen more within a very short walk but offered no sound justification as to why those cannot be used. And, if playing football closer to the school is considered more convenient, no explanation was given as why land could not be used for that purpose during school hours without fencing it off to exclude the public at all times.
Despite these objections, planning consent was granted in 2011. We have written to the Director of Planning at Barnet to inform him that we will remain vigilant and will resist any further loss of public Green Belt land.