Greenbelt

The Green Room

Welcome to The Green Room, where you can read all the latest news from Greenbelt. Simply click on the links below to find out about our new developments, community projects and charity events. There is also up-to-date advice from our gardening guru and top tips for becoming more involved in the Greenbelt community. If there is a particular topic you’re interested in, use the search function to take you straight to the relevant articles.

greenbelt responds to a series of articles published in the herald

You can download this letter in PDF format by clicking here.

 

The Editor
The Herald
200 Renfield Street
Glasgow
20 August 2008

 

Dear Sir

GREENBELT: Recent articles printed in Glasgow Herald.

Journalist Graeme Smith

 

I refer to recent articles in your newspaper regarding Greenbelt.

I and my staff are extremely disappointed about the tone and content of these articles as they do not represent a fair and just reflection on Greenbelt. Many of the comments are inaccurate, unsubstantiated and misleading.

I would hope that Graeme Smith disclosed to you that he is a homeowner on one of the developments managed by Greenbelt. I also hope that he made you aware that his own development is not yet complete and that currently there are areas of responsibility resting with not only Greenbelt but the developer and the Local Authority. As Greenbelt communicates regularly with our residents he should be fully aware of the relative responsibilities regarding the developments open space areas. Certainly Greenbelt is fully aware of its responsibilities and works very hard to ensure the other parties meet their responsibilities on behalf of the residents who have moved into the development. Mr Smith has received additional information from my staff on the ground and my customer care team to clarify issues which typically arise on "phased build" developments. With all this supporting information to hand there is no case for printing comments which have serious and potentially damaging impact on Greenbelt. The articles have referred to:

1. A serious matter relating to "police involvement into the company" which after checking with both Grampian and Northern Constabularies has been confirmed as unsubstantiated. Neither force has any reference to Greenbelt, indicating that it was not a matter for police involvement. Both also indicated that if it had been reported as such then they regard this approach as irresponsible. There is no reason for this matter to be referred to and your journalist should have verified what the actual situation was prior to going to print.

2. A dispute between Greenbelt and one particular contractor who has claimed for works not completed. In fact Greenbelt terminated the relationship with this contractor to protect residents from work that was either not performed or not up to our specification. Greenbelt has every right, and indeed a responsibility, to pursue or dispute wrongful claims to ensure appropriate service provision to residents. We also have a responsibility to obtain best value for our customers, which is also key objective in local authority services. Such matters are in the normal course of commercial business and will be sorted out through the normal channels. Your articles appear to provide a voice to one side of a commercial dispute and again this should have verified prior to print.

3. Greenbelt liaises with Trading Standards on any real disputes raised by representative resident groups from developments. Currently there are no disputes which Trading Standards are involved in. Greenbelt is a member of the "Home Authority Scheme" which centralises and resolves any dispute effectively and swiftly. Trading Standards have expressed disappointment at the media reporting and have advised that I write to you, indicating that there is an established and effective process of resolving any dispute.

4. There is a small but effective campaign group who represent a limited number of residents on developments we manage. Despite repeated invitations by Greenbelt and other parties, including Trading Standards, to meet this group, it has chosen not to take up these offers and instead tried to progress their "story" through the media. In doing so this group has frequently either been economical with the truth about the work that Greenbelt is doing or misled the media by suggesting that areas of uncared for land were the responsibility of Greenbelt when in fact these were the responsibility of others.

5. Despite the comments regarding maintenance, Greenbelt does provide a good maintenance and management service to many developments and have many satisfied customers. We have acknowledged a problem in the North of Scotland and have responded appropriately to our customers.

6. The company manages many sites throughout the U.K. There are no planning enforcement actions on any of these sites.

7. Your article on 16 August states that a play area in Falkirk is "unsafe" and a pond dangerous to children. Greenbelt does not yet own these areas. Your report is wrong to infer that Greenbelt is responsible for them, and this needs to be corrected. All our play areas are regularly inspected to British and European standards and repaired.

8. We provide expert management of Sustainable Drainage Systems which help protect houses from any flood, sustainable management of all our woodlands and recognition of the biodiversity value on new developments. These benefits are not recognised in any of the articles which would perhaps have provided a fair reflection for readers to digest.

9. We acknowledge that the house buying experience can be improved with more informed point of sale literature and also proactive legal conveyance for new homeowners. This is a matter we have emphasised to the other parties involved in this process. Most of our customers are fully aware of details of their new home and engage with Greenbelt well, with a view to establishing new communities.

Greenbelt is a hard working Scottish company with good staff providing the service all homeowners on our developments deserve. If there are problems, which any company can be faced with, then we would make every effort to sort out and meet the customer expectation. This requires both parties to be willing to enter a dialogue to achieve resolution - something Greenbelt does not have a problem with.

Yours faithfully

 

Alex Middleton

Managing Director

award success for greenbelt knowledge transfer partnership

Neil Berwick, SUDS advisor on the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Project for Greenbelt has won the 2007 award for the best KTP presentation in Scotland.

He will be presented with his award by Jim Mather, MSP, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism at a ceremony held on 19th February at Dunblane Hydro.

Neil is part of the team at Greenbelt which has formed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Abertay's Urban Water Technology Centre, funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, to create a benchmark of best practice for the development industry. It offers guidance in the implementation, monitoring and long-term operation and maintenance of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) in accordance with industry best practice and guidance from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Local Authorities.

Greenbelt's Managing Director Alex Middleton said: "I am very pleased that the good work of Neil and the KTP has been recognised with this award. Our involvement with the KTP reflects Greenbelt's continued commitment to excellence in the ongoing development and use of SUDS in new housing estates."

SUDS replace traditional networks of underground pipes for surface water drainage, improving water quality, creating "green" amenity areas, and importantly, providing storage for surface water runoff. By using a combination of SUDS tools such as permeable paving, detention basins and ponds, surface water runoff can be stored and discharged at a controlled rate, minimising risk of flooding.

Scottish based Greenbelt Group, the only UK-wide company that owns and manages open space land formed as part of new housing developments, has developed expertise in operating and maintaining sustainable drainage systems. It works closely with many of the UK's leading housing developers and manages more than 100 SUDS across the UK.

Neil Berwick said: "I am delighted and proud to accept this award. The KTP is a team effort and I look forward to continuing to work with Abertay University as we lead the way in developing innovative solutions and expertise in SUDS in the future."

April 2008

* Neil Berwick is now with the Urban Water Technology Centre, University of Abertay. Greenbelt have a contract with the university so that our work on SUDS continues. February 2012

greenbelt extends consumer choice

Greenbelt, the Glasgow-based landscape management company, is introducing new options to extend consumer choice for the management and maintenance of open spaces on new housing developments.

The company, which cares for 750 developments across the UK, provides landscape management and maintenance services through its Greenspace arrangement under which it takes ownership of open space land.

For some time the company has been exploring ways to provide homeowners with the option, should they be unsatisfied with the company and its services, to make alternative arrangements for the landscape management and maintenance of their development.

Greenbelt Managing Director Alex Middleton commented: "The Company is committed to developing best practice throughout its operations from landscape management and maintenance to customer care."

"We've listened to customers and their representatives and have developed a range of options that will, in future, enable homeowners to have more choice in how open spaces on their development are managed. The options include all new and existing developments and will apply immediately."

In developing the options Greenbelt sought expert legal opinion to ensure the new arrangements are covered by existing legislation, Titles Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003.

Alex Middleton added; "We have introduced new measures to improve the quality of our landscaping operations and customer services to ensure our customers get the best possible service from the Greenspace arrangement. However we want to provide them with the reassurance that if we don't deliver they can make alternative arrangements."

A briefing note highlighting how the new arrangements will work is attached or can be viewed on the company's website www.greenbeltgroup.co.uk. The company's Customer Care Charter and Code of Conduct are also available on the website.

volunteers enhancing 'vital' woodland in fife

Volunteers work with Greenbelt and Wildlife Trust Scotland in enhancing woodland at Glenrothes, Fife that is 'vital' to the urban landscape.

Greenbelt is managing the 213 hectares of woodland on behalf of the Trust, working in partnership with local landscape consultants Mark Hamilton and Andy Hines.

the 68 blocks of woodland are valued for their wildlife habitat, free public access and their important role in the landscape of the town

the 40,000 local residents use the 21 km of woodland paths daily for walking, cycling and horse riding, as well as for getting to and from local shops and places of work

many of the woodland blocks share boundaries with housing and busy public roads, and have a key role in the landscaping of the town

The Forestry Commission has approved an award under the Scottish Forestry Grant Scheme for work on thinning areas of the woodland. Greenbelt also plans to:

  • fell and re-plant other areas of the woodland
  • re-build and upgrade footpaths
  • install new signage
  • improve access, including 3 new 'kissing gates'

Greenbelt worked recently with Fife Ranger Service and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust in organising the volunteer event, 'Countryside On Your Doorstep'.*.

Around 100 volunteers were involved in:

  • clearing invasive rhododendron and laurel
  • planting native trees and flower bulbs
  • mapping and monitoring the 150 bird and bat boxes made by pupils at 10 local schools

Tim Hall, the Trust's Woodland Operations Manager, says: "These woods are vital in the urban environment.

"They are the only areas for wildlife habitat and they are also enormously valuable in terms of what they contribute to the town.

"Trees and woodland are not only visually important, they absorb noise and pollution, they offer privacy in a crowded urban setting, and they improve people's health and quality of life generally."

Beverley Burnside, Greenbelt's Regional Lands Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland, says: "Greenbelt has responsibility for maintaining the open space, but we welcome the involvement of volunteers and local school pupils in building a sense of shared community ownership of the woodlands."

making kids' play safe

Greenbelt is making sure that play areas it manages across the UK are inspected regularly so that local children can play in safety.

  • Greenbelt has responsibility for 146 play areas, ranging from small toddler play areas to full adventure playgrounds with multi-equipment
  • equipment and surfacing at each play area is inspected by qualified staff every two weeks to make sure they meet European safety standards
  • contractors and all staff complete rigorous training to gain European qualifications in inspecting play areas
  • an independent play area inspection company carries out quarterly and annual inspections to provide thorough technical reports and estimates of the lifecycle of equipment and also inspects the condition of the surface area, for example, bark mulch used to provide a soft landing if a child does fall has to have a minimum depth of 100mm.
  • Janet McQuillan, Greenbelt's Head of Operations, says: "All play areas are inspected every two weeks to make sure that equipment is safe to use, for example that nothing is broken or worn, and there are no hazards."
    "We have a robust reporting system and there is a rigorous annual training course to keep contractors and land staff up to date, and for new people to gain the European qualification before they are included in the Play Area Inspectors Register."

All inspection results are retained on a database that can be accessed by both Greenbelt

and the independent play area inspection company. Greenbelt is currently installing new

signage for all play areas, outlining basic safety rules and giving a free phone number to

report any faults, breakages or damage caused through vandalism.