Published May 20, 2013
I attended CPRE Isle of Wight’s AGM on Saturday. The day before I was given a fascinating tour around the island by John Langley, the branch Chair, looking at some of the issues the branch is facing.
There are always issues, of course, and the branch has plenty on its plate. Continue reading ‘Good light on the Isle of Wight’
Published April 11, 2013
The next issue of the Countryman will not come out for a week or two, but I thought I should post my latest column (or a slightly longer version of it) now because I have spent much of this week responding to CPRE members and supporters about CPRE President Sir Andrew Motion’s comments on second homes. CPRE has recently drawn up a policy guidance note on housing, conceived by volunteers from branches across England. Second homes are dealt with in paragraph 8.5. Anyway, here is the piece that will appear in May’s Countryman. Continue reading ‘CPRE and second home: the official position’
Published April 9, 2013
Earlier today I debated with the Planning Minister, Nick Boles, at a Conservative Home event. In preparation Oliver Hilliam, CPRE’s archivist, dug out a file marked ‘Margaret Thatcher’s strong support for CPRE’ and I was able to use a couple of choice quotations in the debate. It is not often that I use Mrs Thatcher’s words to bolster my arguments, but I hope today will mark the start of Nick Boles’s conversion to a more countryside-friendly, Thatcherite approach to planning. Continue reading ‘CPRE and Mrs Thatcher: the untold story’
Published March 10, 2013
I had a letter in Friday’s Guardian calling for more public investment in housing:
Zoe Williams is right: if politicians want to address the country’s housing crisis, they must build more homes (Let’s build more homes – who wouldn’t vote for that?, 7 March). As it is, the government’s only serious remedy is to weaken the planning system and hope that the private sector does the job. It won’t. Developers’ profits and land banks are growing, but there is no evidence that they will build good-quality new homes on the scale needed. They certainly will not do so while the economy remains in the doldrums.
For 30 years after the war, the public sector built at least 130,000 houses a year in England, accounting for over half the new homes built. Since 1979, relatively little public housing has been built and there has been no significant growth in private sector house building to compensate. Bashing the planning system and arm-twisting local authorities to release rural land for housing will not alter that.
No one is suggesting a return to mass council housing, but if the government really wants more houses, it must find a way to build them. And if it commits to high standards of design and quality, and to well-planned new developments largely within existing towns and cities rather than sprawling into the countryside, it will find it much easier to get local consent. Continue reading ‘Build, build, build – in the right places’
Published January 22, 2013
Tory Modernisation 2.0: the future of the Conservative Party may be one of the best political books published last week. It is certainly interesting.
Perhaps predictably I found myself agreeing most with the essay on ‘Green Conservatism’ by Ben Caldecott, one of the founders of the Conservative Environment Network. This contests the idea that there is ‘a contradiction between sound economics and protecting natural resources and beauty’ and makes a plea for ‘caring about the place where we live, locally and globally’. Continue reading ‘The people have failed us! New Tory thinking on planning’
Published January 8, 2013
There was a good leading article in the Observer, echoing several CPRE concerns about the Government’s policy on wind farms.
Calling for ‘a more intelligent and nuanced debate,’ it says that the complexity and inconsistency surrounding planning decisions on onshore wind stems from ‘the lack of a coherent vision form the government about how many onshore turbines should be built’. The Government should recognise the ‘cumulative impact’ of wind turbines. It should also do much more to encourage energy efficiency. Continue reading ‘Good sense on wind farms’
Published January 2, 2013
Tony Kemmer died suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas Eve while preparing to play golf. Tony had been a national CPRE trustee since 2010 and chaired CPRE’s regional group in the East Midlands for four years from 2006. He made an outstanding contribution to CPRE in both roles. Continue reading ‘Tony Kemmer 1949-2012′