Archive for November, 2015

In the thick of it

Twice in the last month the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has dismissed thorough (and expensive) CPRE research, without any serious engagement with it.

On brownfield development, the Government has a good record, particularly compared with the Coalition government, which dumped the emphasis on brownfield housing first introduced by John Gummer in 1990. Brownfield land registers are part of the Housing and Planning Bill now going through Parliament, and we are promised a £1 billion fund for brownfield remediation.

CPRE does not take a crude ‘all brownfield good, all greenfield bad’ approach to planning, but we are pleased with the new emphasis and the fact that Ministers’ took note of our campaigns and reports  Indeed, Brandon Lewis, the Housing and Planning Minister, has often quoted CPRE’s statement that there is enough suitable brownfield land in England to build at least a million new homes.

That figure comes from detailed research conducted for us by the University of the West of England (UWE). Continue reading ‘In the thick of it’

Set up to fail

Today CPRE published a major report, Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside. I guess most people’s minds are elsewhere following the terrible events in Paris, but I hope the report will get some attention in the coming weeks. Based on a thorough analysis of 54 local plans adopted in the last two years, it shows conclusively that the current system is not working either for those in housing need or for communities trying to shape developments in their area. Continue reading ‘Set up to fail’

Big issues for the countryside

This is my column from November’s edition of The Countryman.

What are the big issues for the countryside in the next couple of years? Here is a very partial list. Inevitably it omits many important things – bovine TB; energy generation (I wish we would also think about how to save energy); flooding and ‘extreme weather events’ linked to climate change etc. But here is my top five.

Continue reading ‘Big issues for the countryside’