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Kerry, Upton

Upton Heath, Green Belt land in Dorset
Upton Heath, Green Belt land in Dorset Suzanne McGowan / Alamy Stock Photo

The view from the front of my house is of a quiet cul-de-sac of cloned semi-detached house, but out the back you are greeted with a view of grassy horse paddocks, community allotments, and newly allocated Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) fields that lead onto nature reserves kissed by the waters from the harbour.

This open-screen green space (Frenches Farm) has become vital for my well-being, especially over the last few years when I have started working from home – and I know I’m not the only one in the local neighbourhood who feels the same.

'There is a looming worry that the old farmland may one day be sold for yet more development'

The SANG area is very popular with dog walkers, and people also travel here from further afield to exercise their four-legged companions. The space was given to the community to soften the blow of 72 houses being built on what was once a dairy farm, but there is a looming worry that the old farmland may one day be sold for yet more development, and there are already plans for more houses to be built nearby. Since the footfall in this area has increased, sadly so has fly-tipping, and I have seen everything from car tyres, fridges and prams, to heaps of polystyrene and garden waste, not to mention the bodies of headless deer found in the stream that runs alongside the ancient hedgerow. The reopened and long-forgotten paths have been a little too re-discovered, and it is heartbreaking to see this natural space so thoughtlessly mistreated.

Yet despite the new buildings and the fly-tipping, the place is beloved by me and many others. I know that without the big open skies of the fields behind my house, I certainly would not feel as grounded and connected to nature as I do. Even just by walking the same path each day.