Building up to what?

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THERE’S a rumble in the jungle in East Renfrewshire over the number of new housing being planned.

According to figures, if the proposals for new building meet with approval there will be 20% more housing being built on greenbelt land.

This has, understandably, caused much friction among the residents throughout the area.

So why has this situation come to trouble the good people of East Ren?

Well, it may be because the west of Scotland is facing a long-standing housing crisis.

Glasgow, in particular, has not enough housing to meet the needs of the people.

But this can’t be the real reason – certainly not the sole reason – for the current crop of bids to build.

Most, if not all, of the new proposals will be for private housing – whereas most people caught up in the housing crisis are in need of social, rented homes.

And councillor Jim Swift adds a fresh dimension to the puzzle.

On the front page of last week’s paper, councillor Swift claimed that a previous plan in September to build on a brownfield site was given the heave-ho because the council felt there was no need for more housing.

Weeks later, that same council produces its Main Issues Report which lists building options – all on greenbelt areas.

I’m sure if a meteor had crashed and wiped out 20% of the area’s housing, I’d have read about it in The Extra.

On a less facetious note, an increase of 20% housing will take up a great deal of the lush surrounds of the villages.

In our determination to become a more eco-friendly planet it is madness to build on greenbelt land.

Another ecological concern is that East Renfrewshire has the highest, per capita, car ownership in Scotland – any increase in its population will also increase the amount of cars in the area.

Quite apart from the increased congestion on the roads, there is the massive amount of pollution that will be heaped upon the current residents.

The positive aspect for ERC is the large increase in council tax it will receive as there is no doubt any new housing will be snapped up right smartish.

But what of those already living in the area?

Many people have moved out of the city limits for the relative quiet of suburban life.

Housing is not cheap in East Renfrewshire and there will be those who have saved to buy so that the quality of their lives would be increased.

Those same people will feel cheated if their lives become no better than the poor souls who live in densely-populated areas of the city.

And what of the schools?

East Renfrewshire rightly prides itself on the high level of education it provides for the children.

There’s been no news about more schools being built (apart from Maidenhill primary), so its to assumed that the existing schools will have to cope with perhaps a large influx of pupils.

Will they cope? Will East Ren schools in the future still be able to boost high pass records?

Who knows? Maybe they will. But one thing’s for sure, to maintain current levels of academic success will put a great burden on teaching staff.

So, for these plans to go ahead, residents could see educational and ecological harm done to their area and a decrease to the quality of life in return for more council tax.

Seems there’s an imbalance here, surely.

But, as also reported in last week’s paper, the residents are not willing to sit back and allow the builders in without a struggle.

A public meeting is being held on February 29 to fully explain the proposals and make sure residents are under no false illusions what this will mean for their lives.

I’m sure other meetings throughout the region will also take place and many voices will be aired.

Lets hope there are ears to listen.