I AM increasingly concerned about the Government’s planning reforms. They’re right to talk about protecting green belts, national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty when decisions are made about where development should take place, but what about the 60 per cent of England’s countryside that is none of these things – like a lot of our local countryside?
Since 1945, successive governments have protected the countryside for its own sake – which means thinking carefully before building in the countryside, and ensuring it is an option of last resort. For almost 20 years there has been a requirement that land that’s been used before – brownfield land – should be developed before green fields. The Government is proposing to abandon this policy, yet a new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England demonstrates that the supply of brownfield land is increasing – there is enough to provide 1.5million new homes.
Protecting the countryside and building on brownfield land go hand in hand. Time is running out – I gather that ministers are considering the final changes to their new planning policies. If something is not done soon to get them to change their plans, much of our countryside will be at risk. Readers can use the action on the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s website to write to their MP: www.cpre.org.uk.