The Coming Home report made headlines when it was published in February. It set out the Church of England initiative to use land to create affordable housing. The Church owns considerable amounts of recyclable brownfield land in cities and towns and is developing a strategy to release it for affordable housing, especially for younger people and families. This links with CPRE’s campaign on brownfield and could encourage synergy locally on the use of brownfield. To share more widely the Church’s plans, Canon Chris Beales presented a talk to CPRE focusing largely on the Coming Home report. Chris describes himself as a social entrepreneur working in housing and education and on issues of faith and economy locally, nationally and internationally. He pioneered government work with faith communities. He has written and published two books and contributed to other books and magazines. He is an Anglican minister, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Visiting Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University. He was one of the Commissioners of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church & Community.
To view Canon Chris Beales’s presentation, click here
CPRE Protect Kent is cautiously optimistic about the news that Ebbsfleet is to become a garden city. This development, if done correctly, will bring much needed housing to an area which is brownfield land and well connected with direct access to high speed trains.
We now look to the Chancellor George Osborne to follow up his words with practical steps to ensure that this land does at last get developed. This is now an important opportunity to get on and deliver homes that are affordable and a place where families want to live.
Planning permission for this site was first given in 2007 and so far only about 150 homes have been built out of a planning permission for 6250 homes. Up to now this has been a prime example of ‘land banking’ – where a large developer obtains planning permission and then holds the land as an asset, without pressing on to deliver the homes that are so needed.
The Government is convinced that planning is the cause of the lack of housing but this is not the case. There are many sites in Kent where planning permission has been given where development has yet to begin. This is putting greater pressure on the countryside with both Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belt being especially vulnerable. CPRE Protect Kent has long been campaigning to unlock chunks of land which, like this one, have been left undeveloped despite having planning permission for many years. We look forward to seeing more detail about this development proposal, and exactly what it can provide for those in need of housing in northern Kent.
Our precious countryside is under ever increasing strain from development. Across England our natural environments are being constantly chipped away by housebuilding, roads, solar farms and a variety of other developments. Once this countryside is gone, it’s gone forever! Because of this, we want you to stand up and be counted, and sign our Charter to save our countryside. Continue reading →
The problems of rat running traffic, inconsiderate driving and danger to walkers, cyclists and equestrians on our rural lanes are all too familiar in Kent. CPRE has long been campaigning for lower speed limits on rural lanes and for better provision to be made for non-motorised road users.
We do not normally favour road closures, but in the case of Cornford Lane, an ancient lane on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whose character and safety are being destroyed by through traffic, an experimental Traffic Regulation Order and a barrier half way along it to prevent its use as a through route by motor vehicles appears to be the best solution. See the website of the Friends of Cornford Lane www.cornfordlane.co.uk for further details and to add your voice to their petition.
CPRE Protect Kent is disappointed with the announcement given by the Chairman of the Airports Commission today. The initial recommendation to focus the options for additional runway capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick is extremely disappointing, since we believe that there is sufficient capacity in the system.
During the consultation CPRE Protect Kent examined aviation trends throughout the UK. We found that the upward trend is diminishing, meaning that there will be fewer aircraft flying in the future. With the rise of technological innovations such as online video conferencing and increased fuel prices, we believe that passenger numbers will slowly begin to level off. This fact, combined with statistics for the current spare runway capacity of a number of airports in the south east, showed that we are unlikely to realistically need any more runway space. Stansted is only operating at around 50% capacity, whilst Gatwick also has significant runway space available. With declining aviation runway use, we believe that there is simply no requirement to build more runway space and that the countryside can be protected through more efficient use of existing capacity and the use of fewer, quieter planes.
CPRE Protect Kent welcomes the fact that the Thames Estuary airports have been dropped dismissed from the shortlisted options. We are also pleased that the creation of an Independent Noise Authority has recommended. We hope that this authority will reduce noise, rather than simply enabling more planes to fly.
CPRE Protect Kent is glad that Sir Howard Davies has listened to the objections to a Thames Estuary airport and not shortlisted that option. However, we are extremely disappointed that the possibility of a new hub airport at Cliffe has not been dismissed altogether and we hope that the further investigation of environmental impacts will do just that. We are also disappointed that he has failed to acknowledge the large amount of spare runway capacity currently available for use in the south east. Surely we should be making better use of existing south east airports before building any new runway capacity.
Technological innovations are making frequent flying for business less necessary. The forecast of fewer aircraft flying in the future should show the Airports Commission that there simply is no need to build new aviation capacity in the south east of England.
Developers only appear to care about their profits! So who really cares what is built near you? All too often councils only seem to care about their party being re-elected or hanging on power. So who cares if your children cannot get into their local school because they are oversubscribed due to excessive house building? So who cares if your journey to work takes longer because the transport system cannot cope with the mass of people living in the area? Civil servants, it frequently seems, are simply promoted to their level of incompetence. This frequently means that if a senior civil servant gets things wrong they either rise up the food chain or the mess they have caused gets covered up. So who cares if in years to come there are food shortages because we have more people than the country can feed? Continue reading →
The decision given by the Secretary of State for Transport that Option B for a new Lower Thames Crossing will be abandoned was not entirely unexpected by CPRE Protect Kent. This option had always had very limited support from any parties involved and would have scuppered plans to build the new Paramount Theme Park—investment which North Kent is crying out for on a largely brownfield site. When the announcement was made, we were encouraged to hear that the Government were committed to postponing their final decision until the impacts of high speed tolling had been fully examined. We have always said that the proposals to build a new Lower Thames crossing are premature, due to the many different factors which may well see a reduction in the amount of traffic currently using the crossing. High speed tolls will play a significant part in freeing the crossing of its bottleneck, whilst the London Gateway port will allow a large proportion of road freight to be transported to Essex, and beyond, by sea, reducing the number of HGV’s on Kent’s roads.
Whilst this initial battle has been won, both options A and C are still alive and on the proposals table with Government. We believe that both of these options are jumping the gun, and we hope that once the many bottleneck relieving features are implemented and taken account of the Government will drop these road building plans.
There are a number of draft local plans flying around Kent at the moment, and coming directly after the Canterbury District consultation, we now have Swale Borough Councils stab at setting the agenda for the next 20 years! Continue reading →
Does the UK want energy rather than food? I don’t think so, but that is effectively what we are committing ourselves to with every large new solar farm that is given permission on ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land. Continue reading →
CPRE Protect Kent works on a committeee basis; in every single district of Kent, we have an active committee who spend their time scrutinising the many and varied planning applications which developers are submitting. Each year, these committees hold an Annual General Meeting which gives members of the charity, and members of the public, the chance to meet their committee and find out a little bit more about what CPRE Protect Kent do to ensure the survival of the countryside and our rural environment!
Our Ashford District Committee will be holding their AGM on Monday 23rd September, at Tenterden
Town Hall, Tenterden from 2.30pm till 4.30pm. We would welcome any members of the public who would like to come along and find out more about what the charity is doing and how we are helping to save your countryside. You can read more information about the AGM and download its agenda by clicking here: Ashford District AGM
Local plans are not the easiest things in the world to read….
In fact, they are really quite difficult to read, especially if you don’t have much experience of the planning process. I know that they aren’t particularly simple to get into, as for the first time ever I have been reading the draft Canterbury Local Plan.
Our Chairman of the Dartford and Gravesham CPRE Protect Kent committee, Alex Hills, is a passionate cyclist and transport campaigner! Here is his committee’s take on the various cycling gaps we currently have in Dartford and Gravesham and throughout Kent:
Since 2011 it has been the practice of the Historic Buildings Committee to make an annual award in memory of HBC’s renowned founder-member and erstwhile chairman Kenneth Gravett. The aim is to present the Award (currently valued at £300) to a Kent-based architecture undergraduate whose work best displays excellence in the study of historic buildings. Components of the work must show sound observation, draftsmanship, presentation, powers of analysis and interpretation (see elsewhere for the detailed Specification).