Archive for October, 2014

In praise of (a) rural development: affordable housing in Dartmoor

Earlier today, I was delighted to open a development of seven affordable homes in Holne, Dartmoor. The development has been controversial locally, and I generally sympathise with anyone concerned by the impact new buildings have on the places they love. There is almost always something lost when a development happens, particularly in such a beautiful part of the countryside.

But much can be also gained if it is done with care. Buildings can enhance a place’s interest and beauty, as well as detract from it. And villages need new life. A ‘living’ village has a mix of ages and incomes. Something dies when a village becomes the preserve of retirees and second home owners. Continue reading ‘In praise of (a) rural development: affordable housing in Dartmoor’

Change in the countryside: reasons to be cheerful

Here is my column from the next issue of the Countryman, making the point that however much we bemoan change, some things in the countryside really have got better. I’d love to have views and further suggestions, either in blog comments or tweets to @cpre or @shaunspiers1.

Next year sees the sixtieth anniversary of W. G. Hoskins’s great work, The Making of the English Landscape. It concludes with a wonderful jeremiad on how every change to the English landscape since the late nineteenth century has ‘uglified it or destroyed its meaning, or both…. Barbaric England of the scientists, the military men, and the politicians: let us turn away and contemplate the past before all is lost to the vandals.’

I am sure many of us share both Hoskins’s rage at the ‘uglification’ of the countryside and his nostalgia for a better past.

However, while CPRE exists largely to stop bad things happening, it is also part of our charitable purpose to make things better. And some things really have got better in the countryside in recent years. Here is my baker’s dozen, in no particular order. Continue reading ‘Change in the countryside: reasons to be cheerful’

The great housing disaster: time to get radical?

Danny Dorling’s All that is Solid: the great housing disaster is a great attack on inequality, seen through the prism of housing. But although the analysis is left-wing, it provides little ammunition for today’s post-Thatcher Labour Party. I imagine that many of Dorling’s arguments (minus the rhetoric, which sometimes undermines them) would be more immediately attractive to Churchill or Macmillan, were they alive today, than to Tony Blair or Gordon Brown. CPRE has members from across the political spectrum, from the Green Party to UKIP. But I think there are seven propositions from Dorling’s book with which most would broadly agree, or which support the argument that solving Britain’s housing crisis will take more than just building lots more houses. Continue reading ‘The great housing disaster: time to get radical?’