STANDING UP FOR THE COUNTRYSIDE

Planning 'reform' success

At Herefordshire CPRE we’re cautiously optimistic following the announcement last week by Robert Jenrick that the Government is abandoning its plan to use a computer algorithm to dictate numbers of houses built in each area. We believe it’s not only a step in the right direction but also that the Government is listening to the views of the people.  Both local groups and national CPRE have consistently challenged the proposed planning ‘reforms’ published this year on the basis of 3 major concerns – they would lead to:

  • a loss of local input to the planning process – no say by local communities
  • reductions in quotas stipulating how much rural affordable housing should be built in each development
  • planning by computer algorithm.

There’s lots to celebrate here; as Crispin Truman, CEO of CPRE says, the new focus on new building happening in more urban and disused land is ‘something we‘ve been calling for and is a win-win scenario for people and nature'.  Although Herefordshire is less rich in ‘brownfield' land (land that has already been built on) than some counties, data gathered for the recent CPRE report ‘The State of Brownfield 2020’ shows the county currently has 441 vacant brownfield sites covering 366 hectares, 239 with planning permission, having capacity for nearly 20,000 new homes. 

Taking action pays off!

Nationally, CPRE has joined a broad coalition of interested groups, briefing MPs, airing the debate with opinion pieces and letters to national newspapers and keeping the pressure on.

Individual CPRE supporters all over the country have been hard at work too..... the 6,000 CPRE supporters who contacted their MPs ahead of a debate on 8th October made a real difference - CPRE was mentioned seven times by six different MPs from both sides of the House and Mike Amesbury MP even said ‘We’ve all had CPRE emails…’. 

This climbdown is a real win for people’s voices (including the 310,000 who signed our petition calling for the proposals to be rethought) – and for our CPRE campaigning work.

We can see some big issues that we’d like to see prioritised, summarised here by Crispin Truman.

‘The key test for these changes to the housing algorithm will be whether they help give local councils the ability to plan the quality, affordable homes we need, while preventing unnecessary loss of countryside and green spaces.’

CPRE is ready and waiting to see how things develop from here, and will keep talking to the government and making the case for the countryside. We want to see ministers build on this promising start and go further, making sure, in Crispin’s words, ‘we breathe new life into our towns and cities whilst building more affordable homes and responding to the climate emergency'.

Photograph by Barbara Bromhead-Wragg