…the CPRE poll found that 53% of over-55s were very pro-retention of the green belt, whereas only 31% of 35- to 44-year-olds were certain it was worth keeping. Private renters were a third less likely than homeowners to feel strongly about saving the nice ring of fields around seven of the UK’s major cities.
All mushed together, this is seen as evidence that Generation Rent – with all their landlords and their written permission to put up shelves and their endless, infinite saving up of a deposit for a one-bed, saving up for so long that canyons rise and fall and mountains crumble into the sea – cares not for the 60-year-old ring of meadows designed to impair urban sprawl, and would rather see England concreted over entirely and flats built on top.
And…are you here, in the ‘Guardian’, to tell us all that this is a dashed calumny, and you young folk believe passionately in green spaces?
… as a fully qualified member of Generation Rent who recently moved and, as a result, is this close to burning his outgoing property agency to the ground if it withholds his deposit a day longer, I say: yeah, concrete it.
Because the thing is, not even the CPRE – an organisation that is ostensibly about protecting England’s rural areas while tub-thumping about bramble – can come up with an especially convincing reason not to.
I guess not.
To really cement its cause, the CPRE has roped in some of those celebrities young people like so much to sign a letter to the Times calling for protection of the green belt. You’ve got Philip Pullman, Julian Barnes, Penny Vicenzi, Michael Morpurgo, Joanna Lumley, Virginia McKenna. Truly, could they have done anything less appealing to young people? Beyond coaxing Vicky from Geordie Shore – our Diana – into a poppy field and slaying her? No. I can say this with some authority: as a young person doomed to a life of rental misery, nothing has rendered such nihilistic apathy in me as the fact that Julian Barnes signed a petition about a meadow.
“Who cares what these old squares want, man? We’re the younger generation, we know what the future needs!”
The green belt was an idea conceived a hundred years ago and implemented four decades later. Grasping on to it is like insisting on still driving a Model T to work, or eating rations, or not letting women vote. To Generation Rent, the opportunity to actually live in a house one day without putting our privates in the vice-like grip of a terrible landlord outweighs the trace chance of occasionally eating a blackberry without being shot by a farmer.
Is the countryside really so good? Do we actually have to go to such great lengths to protect vast areas which, no matter what you do or where you go, smell fundamentally of manure?
Well, wait until you’ve grown up a bit, maybe have kids (god help us!).
I’ll look forward to seeing you on ‘Escape To The Country’ or ‘Location, Location, Location’ moaning about wanting to get out of the ratrace and the built up areas to somewhere where you can breath fresh air and hear birdsong.
Time has a way of making you appreciate what you formerly decried.