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Call to arms for a new charter to stop destruction of the English countryside


In a recent analysis of emerging and adopted Local Plans CPRE has found that at least 500,000 new houses are planned on greenfield sites.

‘Precisely at the moment when we should be defending the countryside, and making it more accessible because it gives us all what we need more freely than anything else under the sun – we are at grave risk of losing it. It is time to stand up for the countryside, to replace the developers’ charter with a people’s charter’ – CPRE President Sir Andrew Motion.

As the evidence mounts that Government planning reforms are not working the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have launched a three point charter to ‘Save our Countryside’. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was intended to simplify planning and get houses built but the reforms have not delivered the housing people need, and are instead causing harm to communities and landscapes.

CPRE believes that unsustainable and increasing pressure is being placed on the countryside, and sensible planning is undermined by short-sighted pursuit of economic growth at any cost.

CPRE’s charter demands are:
•    Don’t sacrifice our countryside – Our open spaces are being destroyed unnecessarily. Previously developed brownfield land should be re-used first to protect the beauty and tranquillity of our countryside and breathe new life into our towns and cities.

•    A fair say for local communities – Local people are increasingly unable to stop the destruction of their towns and countryside. The cards are stacked in favour of powerful developers. We want a democratic planning system that gives communities a much stronger say in the future of their area.

•    More housing, in the right places – The country urgently needs more affordable homes for our rising population, including in villages and market towns.  But they must be sensitively located; with excellent environmental standards and high quality design that enhances local character. 

Successive governments have failed to protect the countryside. Since 1989, on average, 67 square kilometres of undeveloped land, or an area larger than the city of Southampton, has been lost every year to development.

In a recent analysis of emerging and adopted Local Plans CPRE has found that at least 500,000 new houses are planned on greenfield sites. If these houses were built at the average densities of recent years it would result in the further loss of over 150 square kilometres of green fields. This is at a time when it is estimated that there are brownfield sites available for over 1.5 million homes.

CPRE recognises that we need more houses, including affordable housing in rural areas, but to be sustainable they must be in the right places, rather than granted planning permission regardless of the environmental consequences.

‘A beautiful countryside, better places to live and economic prosperity all rely on good planning, which in turn depends on giving people a proper say in what development should go where.

‘Ministers must listen to the anger of communities who currently feel ignored, and so we will be asking our local MPs to support to our charter and show that they understand the very real concerns of the electorate.’  

Sir Andrew Motion concluded:  ‘I hope everyone who loves England’s beautiful, unique countryside – our great inheritance – will support CPRE’s charter to Save our Countryside. 

Speak out for the countryside, sign our Charter now.