Research is great…

The levels of unprotected countryside in the South East of England. In Kent we have 39% of our countryside which is unprotected by any specific designation. This could be in danger in the future.

Quite often CPRE Protect Kent does research in order to show how inappropriate certain developments are, or to make a point to decision makers. We recently used an excellent piece of research to help supplement our response to Gravesham Borough Councils planning strategy, and we think it may have been a significant reason for them changing their minds.

Our national office also spends a lot of time working on research, and they recently released an absolutely fascinating document which will hopefully begin to change our policymaker’s ideas about the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

One of our biggest problems with the draft NPPF was that although the Government appeared committed to protecting designated landscapes, they had completely omitted to mention the protection of undesignated landscapes. When you consider that the total English countryside area is 46,861 miles squared, of which 26,153 miles squared is unprotected countryside, you may begin to appreciate our concern. This is roughly half of all of our countryside which could be put at much greater risk because of the NPPF. This would be a real shame as planning policy has recognised the intrinsic value of our ‘ordinary’, undesignated countryside for many, many years. Our undesignated countryside is still special, and it still requires protection from urban sprawl and unrestricted development and the NPPF as it stood in its draft form was simply insufficient at protecting it.
So, what does this ‘ordinary’ countryside look like? The picture below is a landscape that would be freed up for development with little protection if the NPPF were to go through unchanged. I think that you’ll agree with me when I say; it’s worth fighting to save!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Within Kent we have two large chunks of our countryside which are largely undesignated and could therefore be open to more development. The majority of the Romney Marshes have no special designation, as well as north of the North Downs and South of Maidstone. The marshes are an iconic, tranquil and beautiful landscape that must remain protected by Government policy so let us hope that when the NPPF is next released we see some drastic changes.

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