Coming Home: how the Church is looking to release brownfield land for housing

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Your chance to catch up with CPRE County Branches Forum seminar on brownfield land

Brownfield land came under the spotlight during the most recent County Branch Forum talk, held via Zoom on Friday last week (Friday, April 23).
For many years, CPRE, the countryside charity, has been campaigning that brownfield land is an important resource for homes in urban areas. According to research, there is enough brownfield for one million homes and yet, because developers can make a greater profit, they are more interested in greenfield land. 
Recently, the Prime Minister has stated that his government is intent on using brownfield in preference to greenfield but, so far, there is little evidence that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are making the research for brownfield a high priority.
Two CPRE branches have taken the initiative to research brownfield land in their areas and have unearthed some astonishing facts that they are prepared to share with the whole of CPRE. An example in London highlights one LPA that claimed enough land for just 2,700 homes, while researchers unearthed, using local information, enough land for tens of thousands more homes.
This is an important area for CPRE if we are to protect greenfield land.
Friday’s speakers were CPRE London’s Alice Roberts, who was instrumental in the capital research, and Jackie Copley, from Lancashire, who has designed a kit to help in brownfield analysis.

  • If you missed the meeting, click here
  • A print version of the presentation is here
  • Read the CPRE report More and better brownfield here

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Credit to Dartford council as it prepares a genuine brownfield-first strategy

Let’s hope Dartford Borough Council’s good work is not undone on the Swanscombe peninsula, which is threatened by the proposed London Resort theme park (pic Paul Buckley)

Consultation on Dartford Borough Council’s pre-submission version of its Local Plan closed today (Friday, April 9, 2021) and CPRE Kent feels this has been largely a positive example of Plan-making within the constraints of the planning system. 
By focusing development on well-connected brownfield sites within the town of Dartford and at Ebbsfleet Garden City, the Plan is essentially a genuine example of a brownfield-first strategy. Coupled with strong Green Belt protection policies and policies responding to the climate-change emergency, there is a lot to commend.
Of course, there remains areas where things could be better. We have taken exception to the continued support of roadbuilding within a borough that has some the worst air quality in the South East and the council’s continued support for the Lower Thames Crossing.
We have called on the authority to be bolder with measures to truly respond to our biodiversity crisis, along with further strengthening of active-travel measures.
We were disappointed not to see a policy protecting intrinsically dark landscapes. We have reminded it about the implications of Natural England’s designation of Swanscombe Marshes and land to the south as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Overall, though, there was certainly as much good as there was bad. We now must just hope that this good work is not undone should the proposed London Resort theme park be consented. 

  • You can read our comments here

Friday, April 9, 2021

Enough brownfield land for 1.3 million new homes, CPRE report reveals

Better use of brownfield can save our green spaces

There is enough brownfield land for 1.3 million new homes, while more than half a million already have planning permission, a report from CPRE, the countryside charity, reveals.
The figures demonstrate that there is already enough available and suitable land in the planning system to meet the government’s ambition to build 300,000 homes per year for the next five years (this Parliament), calling into question the hugely controversial plans to deregulate the planning system that has been proposed by ministers.
Brownfield land – land that has previously been built on and now sits derelict or vacant – provides a valuable resource in the protection of greenfield land from development. The State of Brownfield report 2020 is the latest in a series of CPRE reports on the brownfield register, which catalogues the number of brownfield sites available for development.
The analysis clearly shows that the planning system is not slowing building rates. There is currently planning permission for more than half a million (565,564) units on brownfield land.
In February 2020, the Local Government Association found that more than one million homes in total had been granted planning permission but not yet built. This means that brownfield sites and other unbuilt sites with planning permission could provide more than 1.5 million new homes – in short, we need not suffer the staggering loss of countryside that recent government proposals could bring about.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “These figures clearly show that the planning system is not what is ailing our housing market.
“If there is enough land in the planning system to meet the government’s own housing targets, what will an overhaul of the planning system, with rushed and untested changes, really achieve? It’s clear the government has gravely misdiagnosed the problem – slow build-out rates and market-led housing are blocking the quality affordable housing that rural communities are crying out for.
“But there is a real prize in brownfield – what says ‘build back better’ more than adopting a truly ‘brownfield first’ approach that will breathe new life into the long-forgotten and derelict areas in our towns, cities and villages? This approach will deliver huge benefits, building the affordable homes in areas where communities want to live, providing access to better transport links and amenities and services they need.
“As things stand, the government’s proposed changes will result in a free-for-all, allowing big housebuilders to build what they like, where they like and when they like. Now more than ever is it vital that the government listens to local communities, promotes a genuinely ‘brownfield first’ policy and brings forward more brownfield sites for development so we can build more affordable, well-designed homes.”
Many areas across England with high housing need also have a large amount of brownfield land ready for redevelopment. London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified land available for regeneration that would provide almost half a million homes (458,587).
To make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is urging the government to introduce a genuine ‘brownfield first’ policy that ensures suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside.
Clearer definitions and guidelines must be given so that the registers act as a true pipeline, identifying all possible brownfield sites and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including uses that protect the biodiversity or heritage value of sites where applicable.

  • To read Recycling Our Land: The State of Brownfield 2020, click here

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Planners back 185 new homes on brownfield sites

Brownfield development is coming to Dover (pic Google Earth)

This is something most of us would surely like to see more often: housing development on brownfield sites.
Proposals for 185 new homes in two such locations have been approved by Dover District Council’s planning committee.
Planning permission was granted for 150 homes at the former Buckland Hospital site, with backing for another 35 at the former Stalco engineering works in Great Mongeham.
Both brownfield sites were allocated for housing development in DDC’s Allocations Local Plan.
Nick Kenton, DDC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “I welcome the committee’s decision to approve these sites for housing development, which will go some considerable way towards meeting the target set by the government to build 629 new homes in the district every year.
“The development of brownfield sites is challenging but one that we need to embrace if we are to reduce the pressure to build on greenfield sites.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Tom Fyans: Why we love brownfield

Tom Fyans, complete with new spectacles, speaks at the CPRE Ashford AGM 

The benefits of brownfield development were extolled by Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, during a flying visit to Ashford.
Tom was giving the speech ‘Why town centre regeneration matters for CPRE, the countryside charity’ before the AGM of CPRE Kent’s Ashford committee at the Picturehouse in Elwick Place on Wednesday last week (March 6).
Before he got going, however, Christine Drury, acting Ashford chair, gave some background to the local situation.
“Green fields were being gobbled up all around Ashford,” she said. “We kept highlighting the availability of brownfield land, but all we were getting was excuses, excuses, excuses. Finberry, Cheeseman’s Green, Chilmington Green… it just went on and on. CPRE Kent was not happy about that.
“Now at last the brownfield is being developed and the town centre regenerated.”
Taking the reins, Tom told how being in the “ivory towers” of London could make such matters seem “very theoretical”. It was good to get out and see regeneration in action.
Sporting a swish new pair of glasses, he warned that he had not yet got used to them and those present might need to excuse some peculiar body language. We can but hope he had such issues sorted out before a meeting with housing minister Kit Malthouse the following Monday.
Such pressing matters aside, he revealed the last time he had been in Kent was to take part in a debate in Faversham for radio’s The Moral Maze during which a young student had argued for development in the Green Belt.
Lacking, he said, a connection to the environment, she had been happy with the idea of a dystopian landscape stretching from Faversham to London.
“It was a sobering experience,” he said. “These are young people we need to connect to and highlight the importance of the environment to our well-being. It was a motivator for me.”
He then gave “five reasons we like brownfield”:

  • It entails recycling of land: In contrast to the success of the Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans, we don’t recycle enough land. This was counterintuitive as land was finite.
  • Brownfield can make a massive contribution to housing delivery: A CPRE report showed that 132,000 houses (three years’ supply) could be built on brownfield in the South East, and a million homes across the country. Government had ridiculed CPRE, saying the national figure was just 200,000 homes, but was now coming round to accepting it. CPRE was getting through to government.
  • It’s quicker to build on brownfield: Six months quicker, in fact, and at a greater density. This was a better use of urban land.
  • The creation of vibrant places in which to live: Closer to existing infrastructure, brownfield development could make “a much better offer of a place to live”.
  • It helps us keep our beautiful countryside for our health and well-being, especially given land-use pressures.

“So what is CPRE doing about it?” said Tom.
“We produced the report, State of Brownfield 2018, although the government should be doing this. Brownfield registers are the result of CPRE campaigning and we want to see them used as a tool for bringing sites forward, with greenfield land being held back while brownfield is available.
“We need to involve communities more, and there are pilot schemes in London and Lancashire. We can help identify smaller sites and build a picture at national level.”
Turning to politics and planning, members heard that the aforementioned meeting with Mr Malthouse was about how we build the government’s desired 300,000 homes a year and help them go in the right places.
“There’s a need to rebuild trust in the planning system,” Tom continued. “There has to be a Local Plan-led system – without one, you can’t control development.
“The need to show a five-year housing supply creates its own pressure, with Gladman at the worst end of things. Help to Buy, meanwhile, is stoking huge profits for developers and not helping get people on the housing ladder.
“A clearer definition of affordability is necessary, while at the moment demand is being met by high-end housing, not affordable homes.”
Design is an often-neglected aspect of housing development, but poor design is one of the reasons people object to proposals.
Looking at things optimistically, Tom said Mr Malthouse was a big fan of design principles based on the local vernacular, while Roger Scruton, chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, was a friend of CPRE. “There’s room here for the government to listen,” he said.
Wrapping up with a look at the position of CPRE across the country, the deputy chief executive said the situation was healthier “in this part of the country” but elsewhere proving more of a struggle, with fewer people involved… something that wasn’t improving.
“We’re not getting new people – we’re too reliant on legacies – which means we can’t plan for the future.
“There’s a need to broaden our appeal and compete with other, bigger organisations, with a concentration on fundraising. A lot of work is going on in relation to brand and how we communicate.
“We should be warmer as we’re sometimes seen as aggressive and angry – and indeed we are angry at some developments!
“We have to help people connect better with the countryside and nature. We all need to understand more the connection between rural and urban, with an appeal to both.”
And a final word?
“We will continue with our cutting-edge campaigning. We’re quite critical of the government at the moment.”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

We could build more than a million homes on brownfield land… so why aren’t we?

No bars to building on brownfield sites…

It might seem obvious to many of us, but if we focus attention on building on brownfield (previously developed) land rather than greenfield sites, we will be both making better use of derelict urban and post-industrial land and safeguarding our countryside from development.
However, not everyone would appear to agree and CPRE’s contention that we could spare many of our green fields by targeting development at brownfield sites has too often been dismissed by the government.
Now, though, our argument is supported by a survey showing the country has enough brownfield land to take at least one million homes.
This figure – presented in our report State of Brownfield 2018 – is more than five times that claimed by the government and drawn from CPRE analysis of data from local authorities and their Brownfield Land Registers.
More than two-thirds of those potential ‘brownfield homes’ could be built within the next five years – and many of those in areas with apparent high housing need.
Or, in other words, three of the next five years’ government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified by councils.
All local planning authorities had been required to publish Brownfield Land Registers by December 31 last year, but more than one in five failed to meet the deadline.
As of January 31, 18 were still to publish. At the time of writing, Ashford and Swale councils are among those to still make their submissions.
The CPRE analysis found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering more than 28,000 hectares, would provide land for at least 1,052,124 homes – a figure that could rise to more than 1.1 million once all the registers are published… confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.
It also discovered that many brownfield sites that had been granted planning permission for housing had yet to be developed.
Maidstone Borough Council is one of four local authorities highlighted as having granted permissions more than five years ago for sites that have not subsequently been developed.
The Maidstone figure relates to 11 brownfield sites, with the potential for building at least 393 homes, where no development has taken place and planning permission has now expired.
Regions identified as having the highest number of potential ‘deliverable’ homes include London, the North West and the South East, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.
Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE planning campaigner, said: “It’s fantastic news that local authorities have identified so many sites on brownfield land that are ready and waiting to be developed – and shown how wide of the mark the government’s estimates of brownfield capacity have been.
“Contrary to what the government and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure. Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could be much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.
“The government needs to get on with amending its guidance to make sure that councils identify all the available brownfield sites in their areas. They then need to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure they follow through on their commitment that all new-builds should be on brownfield first.”
The registers have found sites for well over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission.
To make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is calling on the government to take the opportunity presented by the forthcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a brownfield-first approach to land release and granting planning permission for development.
Local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives, CPRE believes.

  • CPRE Kent intends to develop this story with the specific focus on our county. Do you know of any brownfield sites with planning permission for housing that have yet to be developed? Please let us know at david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk
  • To read State of Brownfield 2018, click here

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Concerns over noise and air pollution at Manston Airport

We have today (12th July) submitted our consultation response to RiverOak Strategic Partnership’s consultation into the future of Manston airport.

We are concerned that the environmental and social impacts of noise and air pollution outweigh the claimed economic benefits. In contrast, the opportunity to convert this brownfield site to mixed commercial and residential use offers more realistic employment opportunities and would help of safeguard the best quality agricultural land which would otherwise be required to meet Thanet’s objectively assessed housing need.

Manston airport by Simon Moores, flickr

Director Hilary Newport said “We don’t think a new airport here would provide any overall social or economic benefits, and there is a real danger of converting the site into an airport is that is highly unlikely to be viable, and would therefore again become a blight on the area, and retard the more useful, and economically and socially beneficial uses for another decade.”

CPRE Kent also considers the negative impact of night flights on surrounding communities to be unacceptable.

The consultation period closes on 23rd July. You can read our consultation response here.

12 July 2017

CPRE Manifesto for 2017 election

CPRE’s manifesto calls on all parties in the election to recognise the countryside’s huge contribution to the economy and our sense of who we are as individuals and communities, and to develop policies that will protect and enhance rural areas.

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We are calling for:

  • stronger protection of Green Belts and AONBs
  • investment in urban regeneration, especially brownfield sites
  • funding for farming to ensure we are a resilient nation in terms of food and environment and to reverse the decline in nature, in soils and in landscapes
  • an overhaul of transport policy in favour of a better integrated and sustainable approach
  • reduce waste and pollution by committing to resource efficiency schemes, such as deposit return systems
  • transpose all EU environmental protections into domestic law and introduce an ambitious new Environment Act

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Read our manifesto here.

April 27th 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.

 

Building site 'Cox' restoration 018

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.

Otterpool Park

CPRE Kent has raised concerns about the proposed development of 12,000 homes at Otterpool Park near Westenhanger in Shepway.

 

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

The masterplan, by Shepway District Council, has won the backing of Government including a pledge of £750,000 capital funding.

However, there is no objectively assessed need for housing on this scale in this area. It will be more than half the size of Folkestone and well over twice the size of Hythe. We are concerned about increased congestion and inadequate infrastructure.

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “People living in villages nearby are already being impacted by the huge Operation Stack lorry park. This will blight our countryside and affect our communities. We believe in positive place-making but this needs to be done in the right place with sustainable communities and where there is a proven need. The priority should be for brownfield sites and to build out those planning permissions already granted.”

Fore more information see here and here.

Residents are meeting for an update and to plan their reaction to the plans at 7pm at Lympne castle tomorrow (November 15th). For more information see https://www.facebook.com/nootterpoolnewtown/

November 14th 2016

Planning reforms 2016 – write to your MP

Urgent call for your support. Please write to your MP now about changes to national planning policy which the Government is expected to publish in June.

Lenham sunset, photo by Simon Oliver

Lenham sunset, photo by Simon Oliver

Getting the right homes in the right places
We are calling for changes that will ensure the right housing is built in the right places, and prevent unnecessary loss of countryside:

  • Developers should be tasked with building the developments on permissions they already have, before trying to grab more greenfield land.
  • Councils should be empowered to prioritise the use of brownfield sites and restrict competing greenfield development, especially when this would further protect the Green Belt.
  • The Government should abandon proposals to relax Green Belt policy and instead make clearer that unnecessary or major losses of Green Belt should be avoided.
  • Councils should be able to set housebuilding targets that are based on a realistic assessment of what is likely to actually be delivered.

We have prepared a letter which you can send to your local MP. If you have the time to personalise it, it will be even more effective. Go straight to the letter and take action by clicking here.

For a detailed look at Planning reforms 2016: What’s the problem? click here.

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

April 27th 2016.

Housing and Planning Bill – some good news

Housing and Planning Bill – Affordable rural homes

Due to the low number of affordable homes and the high cost of property in rural areas, CPRE has been vigorously campaigning to protect affordable housing for those on lower incomes in the countryside.

The Housing and Planning Bill reached report stage in the House of Lords last Monday (11 April). Lords debated amendments concerning affordable rural housing, namely: excluding ‘starter homes’ from rural exception sites; excluding rural areas from the forced sale of council homes; and excluding rural areas from the extension of the right-to-buy from rural areas.

Starter homes

After lengthy discussions and valuable contributions from a number of Lords, including Lord Best and Lord Cameron of Dillington, we are pleased to report that the Government conceded that new approaches are required on both exception sites and council homes in rural areas to protect affordable housing provision in rural areas. The Government will disclose its proposed amendments along these lines at the bill’s Third Reading next week.

The Government’s willingness to negotiate these terms is very welcome, and we look forward to seeing the detail put forward.

Housing and Planning Bill – Neighbourhood right of appeal

CPRE has long campaigned for the Government to introduce a limited neighbourhood right of appeal. This would enable local communities to appeal against approved but speculative planning applications where they conflicted with a made or well-advanced neighbourhood plan.

On Wednesday 20 April Baroness Parminter (Lib Dem) spoke forcefully when proposing that this instrument be introduced to the Housing and Planning Bill. Baroness Parminter argued that an amendment introducing a neighbourhood right of appeal would ensure that it was easier to build consensus in local communities behind the development we need.

Kent aeria photo by Vicky Ellis

Kent aerial photo by Vicky Ellis

Despite the efforts of Government to oppose the amendment, Lords from across the House spoke in support and the amendment was subsequently passed by 251 contents to 194 not-contents. With Civic Voice and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), we must thank many peers, including Lords Best, Taylor, Kennedy and Marlesford, for their support.

Even though the Government was defeated, the amendment is very likely to be debated and opposed when the Bill goes back to the Commons. As a number of Conservative MPs have supported the right of appeal in the past, including Nick Herbert and Sir Oliver Heald QC, we look forward to the next parliamentary discussions on this matter.

April 25th 2016

The housing crisis – a builder’s view

The following article by Susannah Richter appears in the latest edition of Kent Voice. We would be interested in your feedback.

Unrealistic housing targets are putting more pressure on the housebuilding industry than ever before. In Kent, the total 20-year figure is 158,500 new homes, with recent objectively assessed housing need of 18,560 in Maidstone, 15,600 in Thanet, 16,000 in Canterbury and 29,500 in Medway. The industry is dominated by the big companies, so what are the barriers faced by small and medium sized builders and can they provide solutions to the housing crisis?
Pentland Homes was set up by landowning farmers in the 1970s and now builds around 100 homes a year, up from just 30 during the recession five years ago. Most of its development sites are brownfield (79%) – including empty schools, a disused factory, a former pub and MoD land.
But Managing Director Martin Hart says brownfield sites are complicated: “Firstly, they are bought at risk because we don’t know what problems we may find. We are currently building on the site of an old potato packing plant at New Romney which was entirely concreted over – we didn’t know what to expect when we removed the concrete. If something untoward was found, a small company could go bankrupt on just one unlucky brownfield buy.

Martin Hart

Martin Hart

Pentland Builders

Pentland Builders

“Secondly, if a site has been brownfield for a long time it often has greater ecological value than greenfield land which has been ploughed and treated. We have to get ecologists involved and it can be costly if we need to move or provide for species or could even prevent planning permission. Either way it will cause delay – again something many small building companies cannot afford.”
This is exactly what happened at Lodge Hill, a former army camp in Medway identified for 5,000 homes. Over the last 20 years it has become home to 1.3% of the national nightingale population as well as bats, great crested newts, toads, lizards, slow worms, grass snakes and adders. This will be the subject of an interesting planning inquiry. Continue reading

Battle to save Farthingloe is of national significance

Our nationally significant battle to save an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe appeared in the Observer on Sunday and the Guardian online.

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Director Hilary newport told the newspaper: “It’s an indictment of our planning system that an organisation like ours is the only one fighting to protect landscapes that should be sacrosanct. We will not give up on the outstanding countryside which is such a fundamental part of our country.

“The unredacted document shows this was a case in the national interest and should not have been left to a local planning committee to determine. There is a real need for more housing, and no one wants to embalm the countryside, but surely this should not be in our most precious, protected landscapes. We feel a sense of utter betrayal that the designation of AONB was ignored in these decisions. What hope is there for the wider countryside if even here there is no protection?”

Lorraine Sencicle, a local historian, said: “The Farthingloe valley is an important part of British history. It is almost pristine, and connected directly with the great church and monastery of St Martin’s in the town centre. You listen to the stupid arguments justifying the development like, ‘Oh well, we need some big executive houses, then big executive people are going to live in them and spend their money in the town,’ and you think, ‘Wake up!’”

Emma Marrington, CPRE’s senior rural policy campaigner, said: “The high court decision over the Dover scheme could set a dangerous precedent for AONBs across the country. Excessive and unsustainable housing targets are being used to justify development in protected areas when we should be focusing on redeveloping brownffield land for the homes we need. Our beautiful and treasured landscapes are meant to receive the highest levels of protection under national planning policy. We need to make sure that this level of protection is enforced.”

To read the full article click here.

Ferbuary 8th 2016.