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.

Developing new homes AND our heritage

Rose Lister, who has joined our team at CPRE Kent as an intern specialising in heritage, shares her thoughts below on the planned development of Connaught Barracks and the heritage implications.

Heritage can mainly be seen in our built environment, however it is all that is green and growing and all that flurries and scuttles too. Our rivers and wildlife, green open spaces and villages are where we find our identity. England’s green and pleasant land is so rarely found in our towns and cities, but as the pressure to build expands ever outwards and threatens our environmental heritage it is important to realise that what we have is precious and worth fighting for.

Connaught barracks

That is not to say that we cannot develop our heritage. Development is needed and is indicative of a healthy society. Rather we would see that it is done right. A golden example of this is the prospective development of the Connaught Barracks in Dover. The sight ticks so many boxes that it is the perfect place for a local planning authority to regenerate.

  • It is a brownfield site.
  • It has been empty and unused for a decade.
  • The majority of the buildings are of little historical and architectural value.
  • It is not in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Fort Burgoyne 3 by Wevsky Fort Burgoyne 2 by Wevsky

Fort Burgoyne photos above by Wevsky

 

That said it is home to a Victorian fort, Fort Burgoyne. Though overgrown and derelict, the fort is part of our military history and should be treated with respect. Therefore the question is not should Connaught Barracks be developed but rather can it be done right?

Continue reading

CPRE Kent welcomes new houses at Connaught Barracks

We have welcomed proposals to build 500 new homes on the Connaught Barracks site in Dover. The 136-acre garrison has sat derelict since the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment left in 2006.

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “We know there is a need for new homes, particularly affordable homes, and we support building on brownfield sites which have been identified in the local plan for development. Connaught Barracks is exactly the sort of site which should be developed and we welcome this plan. We also very much support small builders being given the opportunity to work on projects like this as the major housebuilders have clearly not been delivering the homes we need.”

Connaught barracks

The Connaught Barracks site was acquired by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in 2008. It is considered challenging by private developers because of complex demolition and utility upgrades required before work can start. Under the new scheme, the Government will be commissioning construction directly with smaller building companies who will not have to undertake to deliver the whole site.

“We hope the building standards will include measures for energy efficiency and landscaping to create an attractive community with the right infrastructure and that it includes the promised 40% of affordable homes so needed in Kent,” said Dr Newport.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark, who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: “Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.”

Building is expected to start in 2016.

For more information on the Government scheme and the other sites click here.

To read our blog by CPRE Kent’s heritage specialist Rose Lister click here.

January 5th 2016.

Concern over planning reforms

The Government this week (Monday 7th December) published a consultation proposing a raft of new changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

We welcome the presumption in favour of brownfield housing development  which would make it clear that development proposals for housing on brownfield sites should be supported, unless overriding conflicts with the local plan or the National Planning Policy Framework can be demonstrated and cannot be mitigated.

However we are very concerned about some of the other proposals.

In particular, a new ‘housing delivery test’ (paras 27-33) will likely lead to more green fields being released for development as councils either plan for more development in advance or have to find new sites to develop when existing targets are not met. We believe that the ‘delivery test’ in its proposed form will allow developers to cherry pick greenfield sites instead, letting the brownfield sites go to waste.

Lullingstone, photo by Susan Pittman

Lullingstone, photo by Susan Pittman

The proposal to encourage new settlements (para 19/20) is also concerning – the area required for entirely new settlements is far greater than that required for just the housing. Councils are already encouraged in the current NPPF to bring forward new settlements. The proposed new policies could serve to force local people to accept large speculative schemes in unsuitable places that had been previously rejected in recent local consultations.

The idea of more quickly bringing forward development on brownfield sites in the Green Belt was trailed in the Spending Review. We believe each case must be considered carefully as brownfield in the Green Belt often contains valuable open land and open parkland that should not be developed. Paragraph 49, meanwhile, suggests that councils will be able to designate parts of the Green Belt for small developments of ‘starter homes’, entertaining the possibility of urban sprawl and drawing focus away from brownfield sites that have connections to existing infrastructure and amenities.

CPRE will be submitting a response to the consultation, the submission date for which is the 25 January 2016.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

“This consultation is really concerning. Instead of addressing the current difficulties in bringing forward the right sites for the right homes, it proposes to release yet more land for development, often in the countryside and possibly in the Green Belt.

“The current policy isn’t working, but these proposals will make things worse. Releasing unlimited amounts of greenfield land will not deliver the Government’s welcome pledges to regenerate brownfield sites.”

December 9th 2015

Continue reading

Reaction to the Autumn Statement

CPRE has reacted to the Autumn Statement and Spending Review, where the Chancellor made a number of announcements on issues affecting the countryside.

Housing:

We have long been asking the Government to stop fixating on the planning system. Figures show that planning permissions are not the issue; the issue is that developers are not building the homes for which they have permission. Landbanking is a major problem and we are saying to developers to get on and build to deliver the housing we need.

HousingEstate_2167w

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the CPRE comments:

“Although we welcome a focus on brownfield development, we’re wary of moves to develop brownfield sites in the Green Belt – many Green Belt sites classed as ‘brownfield’ contain a lot of valuable open land, often historic parkland, which should be kept undeveloped. Continue reading

Unrealistic housing targets threaten countryside

We are calling for an overhaul of the way local authorities set housing targets in order to stop countryside being lost unnecessarily.

Extensive research commissioned by CPRE has shown that local authorities are in effect being asked to base their plans on aspiration rather than need, which is resulting in ever higher housing targets and the consequent, unnecessary release of countryside for development – without resulting in an increase in overall housebuilding.

Shorne Village, photo by Roy Dinnis

Shorne Village, photo by Roy Dinnis

In Kent many of the targets are unrealistic – e.g.18,560 homes planned for Maidstone, 15,600 for Canterbury and 15.600 for Thanet. The total for the county is around 165,000. Kent does not have the infrastructure for these additional homes, the impact on the countryside and environment will be devastating and irreversible. Continue reading

CPRE Kent response to proposed planning reforms

The Government has proposed sweeping reforms to the planning system including:

* Automatic planning permission on all suitable brownfield (former industrial) sites, removing unnecessary delays

* Power for the Government to intervene and have local plans drafted when councils fail to produce them and penalties for those that make 50 per cent or fewer planning decisions on time

* Stronger compulsory purchase powers to bring forward more brownfield land, and devolution of planning powers to the Mayors of London and Manchester

* Major infrastructure projects which include housing development to be fast-tracked

* End the need for planning permission for upwards extensions for a limited number of storeys up to the height of the adjoining building in London

* Higher-density development around key commuter hubs

* Redefining “affordable housing” to include discounted market housing, i.e. starter homes.

 

Photo: CPRE

Photo: CPRE

CPRE Kent response:

CPRE Kent agrees that we need to build more homes, especially affordable homes.

In 2012-13, the UK hit a post-war low of 135,500 homes. Last year the figure recovered slightly to 141,000 homes.

However we know there are existing sites with planning permission for thousands of homes in Kent and elsewhere and we believe more should be done to actually get these homes built. Too many companies are landbanking (the practice of buying land as an investment, holding it for future use  or selling it on with permission but without specific plans for homes to be constructed – i.e land trading). There should be measures put into place to make them actually deliver these new homes within a certain time.

We have long been calling for better use for brownfield sites and are glad the government is backing this. However there still needs to be local consideration about sustainability and infrastructure and which sites are suitable for housing development. CPRE believes there should be a strong presumption in favour of “brownfield first” with these safeguards.

Continue reading

#WasteOfSpace Campaign

Have you spotted abandoned buildings and derelict sites in your area which could be used for housing development? The CPRE is calling on people to identify disused brownfield sites in order to save greenfield sites and help protect our countryside.

The #WasteOfSpace campaign is running until January 2015. Please join in by nominating a local brownfield site, for example an empty shop or abandoned factory. These will be added to an interactive map online which will help politicians and developers to identify sites and also raise awareness of the brownfield/greenfield debate.

“If more disused brownfield sites and empty buildings were re-developed, it would save greenfield sites and protect the countryside. Not only that but it would make our towns more vibrant and help get rid of eyesores and derelict buildings,” said CPRE Kent Director Dr Hilary Newport.

Folkestone waste of space

Abandoned building in Folkestone

So far three sites in Kent are on the map – the derelict building next to Grace Chapel in Folkestone; disused land in Island Road at Canterbury; and space in Rochester next to the bridge over the Medway. But we know hundreds more exist.

A CPRE report earlier this year found that the Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and failing to prioritise the re-use of brownfield land and regeneration of urban areas.

“Brownfield developments can be costly because of de-contamination and complications over ownership, but these are all matters that could and should be overcome,” said Dr Newport. “They won’t be, though, if we continue to promote so-called easy to develop greenfield sites.”

To nominate a brownfield site and add it to CPRE’s ‘WasteOfSpace’ map of England, please send an image of the site (as simple as a quick snap on a smartphone) and an address of the site – either a postcode or rough street address. Send the image by:

emailing wasteofspace@cpre.org.uk
tweeting @CPRE with the hashtag #WasteOfSpace
posting to the Facebook group #WasteOfSpace

To view the map: http://www.cpre.org.uk/how-you-can-help/take-action/waste-of-space