Martin has never believed that the best way to help the homeless or make homes affordable was to build all over the countryside. So he has always strongly supported campaigns to protect treasured green spaces around Cheltenham.
In opposition he developed a policy for the Liberal Democrats which has now been implemented by the coalition government as the Local Green Space designation. It provides protection for local green spaces not for their landscape value or scientific importance but simply because they are important to local people - providing free recreation and quiet enjoyment, growing local food, improving physical and mental health and absorbing both CO2 and dangerous particulate pollution.
Martin strongly welcomed the coalition government's decision to scrap Labour's centrally-driven Regional Spatial Strategies and return powers over housing and development to local communities.
As Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury councils then worked together to develop their own Joint Core Strategy, Martin consistently lobbied for enough housing for local people in need but not the tens of thousands required by a strategy based on economic growth regardless of environmental consequences. In particular he has lobbied furiously against the loss of precious green spaces at Leckhampton and Chargrove. This has been difficult because neighbouring councillors like Tewkesbury Conservative councillor Derek Davies condemned Cheltenham's LibDem councillors as 'greedy' and 'precious' for trying to protect Leckhampton and have blocked moves by Cheltenham to protect key green spaces.
For a copy of Martin's latest submission to the Joint Core Strategy process, email him on email@example.com.
Martin's father, Don Horwood, was one of the founders of the Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (LEGLAG) and Martin joined at an early age. When he and his family returned to Leckhampton and his children began attending local schools and nurseries the need to protect a green, safe and healthy local area became even more personal.
Thousands of communities nationwide are now using a policy devised by Martin to protect threatened green spaces in and around their cities, towns and villages. The new Local Green Space designation is designed to protect local green areas valued by local people – not just great crested newts and landscape painters. Cheltenham’s LibDem council is pursuing the policy enthusiastically and the new designation is being considered for the Leckhampton Fields, open space at Marsh Lane in St.Paul’s, Greatfield Park and Holmer Park in Hatherley, Newcourt Green on the Cirencester Road and more. Martin developed the policy as an opposition environment spokesperson for the Lib Dems. It was picked up in the Lib Dems 2010 election manifesto and implemented, as promised, by the coalition government.
Martin believes more homes should be built on brownfield sites and mixed use developments like St.Paul's, the Brewery and North Place in Cheltenham, in urban city centres in need of regeneration and close to smaller villages and market towns who need them because their shops, post offices, pubs and schools are closing for lack of people.
Martin has also called for more action to support rural housing (for instance in and around farms) where it is wanted and needed, tougher measures to bring more of the UK's 850,000 empty homes back into use and new powers at local level to encourage the buying and building of more social housing for rent which is where the need is greatest.