Saving the Chryston greenbelt

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by Catherine Baird

It’s only ten minutes from Glasgow, but living in the rural idyll of Chryston is as far from city life as you can be. Residents of Chryston and nearby villages value the open green space around them and are fighting for the right for their villages to remain rural. They want to retain open access to their surrounding countryside, to keep the green spaces which define their villages, and to preserve the natural habitat of local wildlife.

As large development companies with vast resources and contacts vie to gain control of North Lanarkshire’s greenbelt, local people are launching a programme of opposition to the destructive plans. Many fields and open spaces have been earmarked for development without any recourse as to infrastructure, services, or security of habitat for wildlife.

Villages like Moodiesburn, Stepps, Muirhead, Chryston, Mollinsburn, and the tiny hamlet of Crowwood all have individual identities and the plans under review would seek to join these villages together to form what would seem like a large suburb, closing up most of the green spaces between them. This coalescing method is contrary to local planning laws.

It has only been a few months since the A80, one of Europe’s busiest link roads, was diverted away from these villages, allowing the residents a little peace at last from the constant pollution, noise and upheaval. But it seems that if these plans go ahead, traffic will increase to unacceptable levels in the surrounding roads.

Lindsaybeg Road which links Chryston with nearby Lenzie and Kirkintilloch has a constant stream of fast traffic exacerbated by rush hour and school traffic for Chryston primary and secondary schools. Crossing this road is treacherous now, especially for children; adding another thousand or so cars into the equation from proposed sites on Gartferry road and Chryston Main Street would be utter madness.

On Station Road, in Muirhead which links the village to Coatbridge, another development, with a projected 271 homes, is proposed – the amount of cars linked with a site of this size would likely be in excess of 350. Residents in the existing estate which leads off of Station road already have problems trying to get out of their road at the roundabout adjoining Drumcavel road, made much worse in wintry weather. Any increase in the number of cars vying to negotiate this busy junction (beside a primary school) would cause chaos.

It’s difficult to get a doctor’s appointment in the local surgery. Sometimes you have to wait up to 10 days. Dental appointments are the same. Trying to get parked at the local supermarket is just as difficult.

On large sites already given the go ahead on the local plan, conditions are built in demanding that developers contribute towards the infrastructure needed to make these developments a success. This reduces difficulty for councils faced with burgeoning population growth and no services to meet demands. These new proposals seem to have been submitted by stealth, after the local plan had been completed, and split into 39 different sites (even though some are adjoining each other) so that no onus would fall on a single developer to pay for any services.

Letters asking for comments from residents affected by the proposals have been sporadic and few. The letters were sent out at the beginning of the school holiday period when many residents were away and the time given for commenting was short, allowing little opportunity for residents to examine the proposals and give valuable feedback in time. Additionally community councils, although given extra time to gather information from local people, are still under pressure to get the message out to everyone.  It is only at some of these meetings that local people have found out the true nature and extent of the proposals.

Not only do local people feel let down by a system which seems weighted in favour of big business, but they feel that there ought to be a change in planning regulations, preventing business groups from demanding change in a local plan already settled by local councils.

Local residents, moved by anger at the proposals have started putting together letters of opposition. Facebook site Save our Greenbelt has a selection of sample letters listing the various details for the sites and giving hints as to why residents should oppose the plans.

Click here to join our campaign on Facebook.

Catherine Baird is a resident of the area and is active in the local campaign to prevent development on greenbelt land.