Freight Action Plan consultation

CPRE Kent has responded to Kent County council’s consultation on its Freight Action Plan.

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HGV selection by Barry V

We expressed concern about the negative impact of HGVs, including:

  • the increased wear and tear on the county’s roads;
  • air pollution;
  • the number of serious traffic incidents;
  • the danger, noise, litter and nuisance of fly-parking;
  • damage to rural verges and hedgerows.

We also stressed again our opposition to a single gigantic lorry park as a solution to Operation Stack.

To read our full response click here.

March 14th 2017

 

 

 

Housing Minister speech praises CPRE

The Housing Minister Gavin Barwell gave the CPRE annual lecture yesterday (20th) and spoke of the influence CPRE had in the recent Housing White Paper:

“We’ve not only listened to your input, we’ve taken it on board. Any honest assessment of the housing white paper will quickly spot the marks of your influence – whether it’s the protection of the green belt, our opposition to speculative development or our insistence on community involvement in planning and design.”

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He added: “I have great respect for the contribution your members have made to public life over many decades in your ceaseless campaign to protect and enhance the English countryside.”

And he said: “The CPRE has played such a distinguished role – and for such a long time – that you suffer from that paradox of success: many people are completely unaware of your profound impact on the English landscape because they simply take it for granted.”

We were heartened to hear him acknowledge our vital role in protecting the countryside.

You can read the whole speech here.

And you can read Matt Thompson’s blog reacting to the Housing White Paper here.

CPRE Kent is working with other branches and CPRE nationally on our full response to the white paper.

February 21st 2017.

 


2017 Housing White Paper

CPRE Kent has welcomed the renewed commitment to protect the Green Belt made in today’s Housing White Paper.

We support the following initiatives:

  • Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land and regenerating estates.
  • Maintain existing strong protections for the Green Belt and clarify that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements.
  • Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.

 

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Bluebells Street Scene

Bluebells Street Scene

Director Hilary Newport said: “We need this commitment to the Green Belt and other protected areas, particularly in Kent where so much of our beautiful countryside is Green Belt or in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We have long campaigned for a brownfield first policy and pleased to see a national commitment to this.”

Pentland Builders

Pentland Builders

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of CPRE nationally said: “We welcome the White Paper’s promise to address failings of the housing market, rather than just meddle with the planning system. Builders must build, not just sit on land. We look forward to seeing the Government’s plans to turn unused planning permissions into homes, and brownfield sites regenerated to bring new life to towns and cities.

“If the focus is on genuine need, achievable targets and good quality design that fits with the local environment, we can build the homes the country needs without losing further precious countryside.”

housing image for NPPF

The White Paper promises a further consultation on how local authorities should calculate housing need. For those concerned about our countryside, the outcome of this consultation is the acid test. Until local authorities are able to set realistic and deliverable housing targets, with an emphasis on meeting genuine need rather than aspirational demand, the countryside and Green Belt will continue to be threatened by poor quality and speculative development.

Shaun Spiers concluded:

“The Government has made a good start in this White Paper and Ministers should be congratulated for listening. It is vital that we build more homes, but it is also essential to do so in ways that have popular support. The focus on brownfield development and other measures in the White Paper will help with that agenda. We now look forward to measures to ensure that housing targets are reasonable, deliverable and focussed on affordability.”

To read the White Paper click here.

February 7th 2017.

Giant phone masts rejected

Planning applications for two huge communications masts have been rejected by Dover District Council planning committee.
Very similar reasons for objections were listed by the planning committee members, describing the structures as “unsightly” and lacking “significant benefits”.
Councillors considered an application by Canadian firm Vigilant Global to build a 322m structure at Richborough Power Station, followed by New Line Networks’ proposal for a slightly smaller 305m tower at nearby Kings End Farm.
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Photo Tamsyn Steadwood

Councillors said they would impact on heritage assets such as the Grade I Listed St Peter’s Church in Sandwich and change the landscape’s character. There were concerns over the footpath which would be used in construction in Vigilant’s proposal, a lack of official ecological assessment and objections from the National Grid.

CPRE Kent had objected to plans for two phone masts because they would cause heritage, landscape and ecological harm.

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Both would disrupt important views across heritage landscape. The area is near the Wantsum Channel, the setting of the historic Richborough Fort. Due to the flat, open nature of the landscape, the proposed masts would represent a substantial and unpleasant feature, ruining views to and from Richborough Castle across this beautiful and distinctive area.

CPRE Kent also believed that the applicants had not demonstrated that they have fully considered alternative sites and other technologies which would avoid harm to landscapes of historical, cultural and archaeological importance. Plus, there was no indication that the applicants have discussed the schemes to see if they could share a mast.

The sites also have notable bird, invertebrate, mammal and reptile species, including golden plover (a Special Protection Area species). The risk to birds was a significant concern of CPRE Kent and this issue should be discussed in detail with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

Planner Jillian Barr said: “We were very concerned that masts of this great height would spoil an important and historic landscape and could harm bird and other wildlife populations. We have called for alternative sites and technologies to be considered and for mobile phone operators to work together and share masts so there are fewer to spoil our landscapes.”

Our full responses can be read here and here.

January 30th 2017


New year lunch at Leeds Castle

We have had a lovely lunch and visit to Leeds Castle to celebrate the new year (January 11th). Forty members attended. Thank you to our wonderful outings volunteer Margaret Micklewright – this was the 150th trip she has organised for CPRE Kent.

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Good news – appeal dismissed into 330 homes at Newington

A planning inspector has refused two appeals by a developer to build up to 330 homes on greenfield land at Pond farm in the village of Newington near Sittingbourne. CPRE Kent was a major participant in the planning inquiry last November.

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

The inspector has now dismissed the appeals on the grounds that “even after considerable weight is given to the social, economic and environmental benefits …… the substantial harm that the
appeal proposals would cause to the character of a valued landscape and their likely significant adverse effect on human health would significantly and demonstrably outweigh those benefits.”

Jillian Barr, CPRE Kent Planner, said: “This is great news for this beautiful part of Kent. The development would have drastically changed the character and landscape of the villages and we were extremely worried about the effect on air quality and human health. The inspector agreed with us on these important points and also agreed the harm caused could not be adequately mitigated. There would also have been a detrimental effect on heritage assets.”

pond-farm-newington-vic Continue reading

Happy New Year from CPRE Kent

Happy new year to our members and supporters. We hope 2017 will be a good year for the countryside but fear there are many challenges ahead with the pressure from ever increasing housing targets and demand and need for infrastructure. We will be campaigning to protect the landscapes we all love.

Chaffinch on a frosty morning by Kentish Plumber

Chaffinch on a frosty morning by Kentish Plumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile what about making a small change with enormous rewards – choosing local produce. This can offer benefits to your health, your community and your local environment.

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Faversham farmers' market, photos Vicky Ellis

Faversham farmers’ market, photos Vicky Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether living in towns or the countryside, local food sources are around, and to help you along the way CPRE has created a handy pocket guide with the best reasons to choose local food as well as tips on helping you to find it. Do have a look.

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January 3rd 2017


Merry Christmas to all our supporters

CPRE Kent wishes all its supporters and friends a very Merry Christmas. It has been a challenging year with some highs and lows and with the increasing pressure of higher and higher housing targets and demand for infrastructure our work is more important than ever.

Photo: Rachel Kramer

Photo: Rachel Kramer

OCA Photography

OCA Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our victory at the Court of Appeal in getting planning permission  quashed for more than 600 homes on the AONB at Farthingloe was a memorable and far-reaching achievement. Meanwhile plans for huge housing developments on our beautiful countryside look set to go ahead including 4,000 at Mountfield, south Canterbury, and 12,000 at Otterpool Park in Shepway.

Winter scene canterbury, by Randl Hausken

Winter scene Canterbury, by Randl Hausken

Transport infrastructure continues to remain high focus – we await a decision on the Lower Thames crossing, Heathrow has been chosen for expansion and of course the giant Operation Stack lorry park is due to open, possibly as early as next summer.

It was wonderful to celebrate CPRE’s 90th anniversary with our garden party at Hever castle in September. To read more on the historic formation of our charity see here.

We will continue to engage in local plans, major planning applications and other consultations and campaign to protect our wonderful landscapes. We do make a difference and it is thanks to our members, volunteers and supporters that we do.

Merry Christmas from all the staff at Charing – Hilary, Vicky, Susannah, Jillian and Paul.

December 19th

 


Our fears over 4,000 homes approved for south Canterbury

The biggest housing development ever proposed in Canterbury has been approved. Canterbury City council has given outline planning permission for the 4,000-home Mountfield Park ‘garden city’ in south Canterbury. It stretches from Canterbury’s southern edge as far as the village of Bridge and includes shops, office space, sports pitches, two primary schools and a potential new site for Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

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Photos: Vicky Ellis

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We fear that Mountfield Park will have a severe negative impact on Canterbury. It is not an appropriate site because it will damage the visual setting of the world heritage cathedral.

Canterbury Committee chairman Dr Alan Holmes said: “The development will be on some of our best and most versatile farmland – it is vital to preserve this because we already import over 60% of our food and food security is an important issue. There are other low grade sites or we advocate prioritising development on brownfield sites.

“We also fear there will be a considerable worsening of traffic congestion, particularly on the Dover Roads, and this will in turn worsen air pollution. The Royal College of Physicians has raised concerns over deteriorating air quality as the result of traffic emissions and the serious impact this has on public health.”

To read our submissions on Mountfield Park click here and here.

November 14th 2016

Communities help to plan low carbon future

Local communities have a new way to help the country meet its obligation to tackle climate change, following this month’s approval of the historic Paris Agreement [1]. With the need to develop a genuinely sustainable energy system more pressing than ever, a new consultation tool  published today [30 November] lets towns, villages and neighbourhoods shape their own genuinely sustainable local energy plans.

Published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and CPRE, it aims to bring communities together to share their passion for local landscapes with their enthusiasm for a more sustainable future.

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CSE and CPRE’s new ‘Future Energy Landscapes’ approach shows that putting local people at the centre of energy planning can result in ambitious vision and targets. Through a series of participatory workshops, with visual tools and consumption calculations, communities are empowered to combine their understanding and views of their landscape with planning for energy needs Together, local planners and communities can create robust energy strategies that could deliver radical reductions in carbon emissions and enjoy genuine local backing. Continue reading

Motocross ban to protect species and prevent noise disturbance

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal into motocross on a site in the countryside on a former quarry between Harrietsham and Sandway. The appellants had sought permission to use the land for the riding of motorcycles for 28 days per year and this was refused.

motocross-site

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Photo: Wildlife Wanderer

CPRE Kent had raised concerns about the Great Crested Newts on the site – they are a protected species and it is unlawful to kill, harm or disturb them. They would be at risk of being crushed on the track or harmed by sand spray.

CPRE Kent also raised concerns about noise disturbance to nearby residents.The inspector agreed that “the proposed development would have a significant adverse impact on the health and quality of life of surrounding occupiers, with particular regard to noise and disturbance”.

The appeal decision is attached below:

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November 29th 2016

 


Landowners can help solve the rural housing crisis

Report suggests ways to help landowners provide affordable housing for local communities

A new paper released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that rural landowners can play a crucial role in solving England’s rural housing crisis, and sets out ways to better enable them to do so [1].

Photo: hastoe

Photo: Hastoe

Under current policy, rural landowners can provide sites at below-market prices to build housing for local people in need – but recent legal and financial changes have made this increasingly difficult. On Solid Ground shows how we could make it easier for landowners to offer their land for affordable housing, including through changes to tax legislation and to councils’ waiting list systems for social housing.

Rural communities are particularly hard-hit by dwindling affordable housing stock: 8% of rural housing is classed as affordable compared to 20% in urban areas [2]. This has seen the average age in rural communities rise as young people are priced out, and services like post offices, pubs and shops have closed as workers and potential customers are forced to move elsewhere [3]. Continue reading

Legend of St Eanswythe: Graham Clarke’s poem

Graham Clarke shared his poem on St Eanswythe at our 2016 AGM.

St Eanswythe was the granddaughter of Saxon King Ethelbert of Kent. She built the first nunnery
in England at Folkestone. While the building work was in progress one of the carpenters cut too much off one of the main beams. The legend is that she lengthened the beam by the power of prayer alone. The little church in Brenzett on the Romney Marsh is dedicated to her. She is a Kentish heroine for us all.

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On Beam Ends in Folkestone 

Her grandad was King Ethelbert, King Ethelbert of Kent
Young Eanswythe down to Folkestone town with building plans was sent
The nunnery that had been planned would be the first in the land
“A holy place is what we need, so make this job your mission
Don’t worry what the council says you’ve got my permission
Saxon craftsmen on this job when about your task
Follow plans most carefully, that is all I ask.”

So the building work began following the holy plan
Till one boy cut a beam too short and by the foreman he was caught
“I told you cut it ten foot four, you’ve cut off fourteen inches more!
You’re really the most useless bloke, that beam was very pricey oak
Don’t try to blame it on the saw, and don’t tell me your eyesight’s poor.”

This now reached our Good Lady’s ear, she told the poor lad “Do not fear.”
“Go and have a cup of tea, leave the sorting out to me.”

While men went off to get their teas, Eanswythe got down on her knees
No-one knows what happened quite on that blessed building site
For whan they came back through the door, the beam had grown to ten foot four
Proper length, perfect fit, the beam had grown the missing bit

“Good Lord we can’t see how that’s done, she’s done a miracle our nun.”
“Saints alive,” the workmen said, the foreman stared and scratched his head
So carpenters when cutting planks, to Eanswythe offer humble thanks
Then should you make a slight mistake pray Eanswythe might her mercy take
But not if you use saws electric. And by the way she don’t do metric.

© Graham Clarke 2016

For more on the AGM and a link to the minutes click here.

November 21st 2016

 


AGM 2016

Seventy members attended our 2016 AGM on Friday. As well as the election of officers and approval of the annual report and accounts, they heard from president Graham Clarke about the wealth of wonderful building materials in Kent, followed by his poem about St Eanswythe. To read the poem click here.

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The keynote speaker was Sue Chalkley, Chief executive of Hastoe Housing Association, who talked of the challenges of getting affordable homes built. You can view her presentation below:

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Sue Chalkley, Hastoe

Sue Chalkley, Hastoe

 

She showed many examples of high quality developments.

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To read the minutes click here.

November 21st 2016.


Affordable home building at a 24 year low

Building of affordable homes is at a 24 year low: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38015368

In rural areas the situation is even more difficult –  housing associations are under more pressure than ever before with cuts in grants and rents and growing demand, particularly in rural areas where wages are low and few affordable homes are available. Susannah Richter talked to two rural housing associations about the challenges they face.

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English Rural Housing Association tenants enjoying their homes

Hastoe and English Rural Housing Association (ERHA) are leading campaigners in rural housing. They are passionate about providing more affordable homes in villages to keep communities alive and vibrant. Both lobbied intensively to make the right to buy voluntary for housing associations (HAs) and have vowed never to sell off their village homes.

This is because it is so difficult to replace those homes and demand is growing. Only 8% of rural homes are considered affordable and incomes are far lower (average £19,700 compared with £26,900 urban). Open market house prices are 22% higher in villages than towns.

It’s a lengthy and expensive process to get rural homes built. Often the developments are small and they are almost solely on exception sites (areas outside village parameters which would not normally be granted planning permission and are therefore much cheaper than development land). The HAs work closely with parish councils, local authorities, rural housing enablers and communities to ensure the housing mix is right for the village.

Hastoe lobbied successfully on the Housing and Planning Bill to ensure starter homes would be exempted from exception sites so they remain a way for HAs to get rented homes built. “Usually there is a real sense of pride from the landowner that they are able to help and leave a legacy for their communities,” said Hastoe’s Chief Executive Sue Chalkley.

HAs used to receive a grant of up to £60,000 for every affordable rented home built. Last year that was cut to around £12,000 and this year to £0 for rented homes. Meanwhile, the Government has dictated rent cuts of 1% per year for the next five years. Both HAs have had to reduce their building programme. At its peak (2012) Hastoe was building 550 homes a year, now just 50-100. ERHA was building 70 a year and that has been cut to 30. Yet the demand in Kent is 200+ per year.

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Photos: Hastoe

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“This makes me really sad. So many people are working hard but on a low wage and desperately need homes for rent. They cannot aspire to buy a home but they want and need to live in their communities,” said Sue Chalkley.

Alison Thompson, Senior Regional Housing Manager at ERHA, explained that they now have to include some open market properties in developments to cross subsidise the costs. “It’s not all doom and gloom though and has in fact presented opportunities,” she said. “We are meeting a new need and have built small bungalows for older people wanting to downsize but stay in their village. Plus, we are being innovative – we are offering some self-build plots which reduces the risk to us and again meets a need and we prioritise selling them to local people.”

Affordable homes are vital for communities to thrive. Without them, families will move to cheaper properties in towns and then the lack of demand within the village can lead to the closure of schools, village shops, pubs. As it is, the number of people aged 30-44 fell 9% over the last decade, many moving to towns after being priced out of their communities.

Sue Chalkley: “I can’t see how villages will survive. Local employers won’t be able to find employees, the facilities will have gone and there will just be affluent older people driving out of the village.”

One example of the need for younger people was in Charing where the fire station was under threat of closure as there was a shortage of retained firefighters. When ERHA built a development, one of the first tenants was a young man who became a retained firefighter, demonstrating just how much impact affordable homes can have.

“We need a mixed community to keep our villages alive,” said Alison Thompson. “Our homes really are a lifeline. Some people have been living in cramped conditions, with parents or in mobile homes, and are desperate for their own home in the area they grew up in or work. One new tenant said she felt like she’d won the lottery the day we handed her the keys.”

To be eligible for a HA home, people need to have a strong connection to the village and be on a relatively low income (in most cases less than £30,000 a year). They then get an affordable rent (80% of market value) and, vitally, security of tenure.

Despite initiatives like the right to buy, shared ownership and starter homes, many people will never be able to afford their homes. Here in Kent our housing associations are safeguarding their stock to ensure it is available for future generations. This will allow people, particularly young families, to live and thrive in their village communities and, we hope, maintain vibrant, active and working villages with a mixture of age groups and income earners.

November 18th 2016