Greenfield site

These fields are not mine. I shall never own
A square inch of this land: I cannot claim
A single blade of grass, the smallest stone;
I’ve no leaf, branch or flower to my name.
I have no influence, no right to choose
Its destiny. It’s not for me to say
What happens here: the great and good will use
It as they please. It’s theirs to take away.
But when it goes – and go it will – a part
Of me will vanish too. I will not die
Yet I shall live a little less; my heart
Squeezed like a fist, my days one long goodbye.
No violence involved, no gun or knife.
But in their robbery, they’ll take a life.


The district council has presented plans for 1,000 (yes, that’s one-and-three-zeroes) new houses, plus factory units and a school, on greenfield land surrounding our ancient woodlands. It will increase the town’s population by 20%, bring our already struggling infrastructure to a standstill, and completely fill in the long view to the South Downs we presently enjoy from the playing fields. We’ve made vigorous representations, of course, but all the signs are that THEY – who, needless to say, don’t live, walk their dogs or raise their children here – will have their way. What can you do? N.

8 thoughts on “Greenfield site

  1. Hi Nick, it is such a shame that nature has to go for houses, although houses are needed of course, but why there? Surely there is space enough elsewhere! Again a very good poem, and sonnet. 🙂 “Yet I shall live a little less” …

    • Thank you, Ina. I know I risk sounding like a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) on this, but even by the council’s own admission, this development is unsustainable and makes no economic, social or environmental sense whatsoever. But because THEY (yes, them again) have said it must be so, it will be so, and those of us who have to live with the consequences are ignored. ’twas ever thus, I suppose. N.xx

  2. Have a similar problem here…land developer stopped by my home the other day in attempt to get me to agree to increase water inundation on my land so they could build new homes on the fields near-by…not going to happen.

    • Sadly, this seems to be a universal problem: the short-term gain of a pound (or dollar) beats the long-term prospects of places and people every time. Hope you manage to keep ’em away. N.

  3. Nick, yesterday in Wisconsin THEY in the form of Scott Walker, who is determined to destroy public education in Wisconsin where my two daughters are teachers, won an election designed to end his governorship. In Sussex the forces of greed believe that by building thousands of houses and eliminating woods and urbanizing the universe, well-to-do people will live in their paved-over paradise and make the GREEDY ONES lots of money. The story is all over the Western industrialized world, and in the meantime their greed is destroying prosperity and the populace’s well-being, all in the name of making things better for everyone. A part of everyman has vanished with this glorification of God the Great One Who Makes the Wealthy Wealthy giving them the right to “…use
    It as they please,”
    It being land, or the well-being of common folks, or public education, or anything that they believe they can turn to their profit and FEED their GREED.
    This is a great poem because it expresses the helplessness we are all feeling as the great ones rummage through the good and leave it worse than before their rummaging. It tells a powerful truth that few will pay attention to as the trees are uprooted and the fields paved over and the schools deteriorated.

    • Thank you Tom, as always. It used to be said that our respective countries were ‘two great nations divided by a common language’: now I think we’re ‘two desperate nations united by a common greed’. What does one do in the face of such blatant, shortsighted self-interest? It would make a cynic of the sunniest optimist. Seems to me everything THEY do is predicated on two things: that everyone is motivated purely by a desire for more money and new shiny stuff; and that whatever else happens, THEY come out ahead on the deal. What’s happening to your daughters’ schools is terrible: the same kinds of things are starting to happen here now, with the government determined to make a thieves’ market of our much-vaunted National Health Service, and schools forced to publish annual league tables of their results – so that wealthy parents can move into the catchment areas of the best ones. No one thanks or rewards us for being honest men, Tom, but the world needs us now as never before. N.

    • Thank you – if (and it’s a fairly safe assumption) they give the go-ahead for this hare-brained scheme, the bulldozers will arrive in 2016. The quesiton is, do we get out while the going’s good, or keep the faith and stay? A tough one. N.xx

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