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Housing and planning

Sustainable Development (Policy)

Brownfield Land

Land is a precious resource, and must be used wisely. CPRE supports a ‘brownfield first, greenfield last’ strategy as a general principle. However, just because a site is brownfield does not mean it should necessarily be developed.

Wherever possible, it is generally better to use already developed urban land and buildings than to build on green fields.

CPRE believes we need to tap this potential [the potential of brownfield sites] while protecting the character and quality of existing residential areas.

It makes social, environmental and economic sense for most new development to occur in built-up areas, where infrastructure and services are already in place, or can easily be provided, rather than in the countryside. Brownfield development is essential for urban regeneration. Done well, it brings homes, jobs and services closer together, reduces car dependence and enhances communities. However, not all previously developed sites should be considered suitable for development. Land important for wildlife, historically significant or that provides valuable open space should be safeguarded from inappropriate development.

What CPRE wants:

  • A ‘brownfield first, greenfield last’ approach – to protect the countryside and regenerate urban areas.
  • Removal of obstacles to brownfield development - financial support for remediating contaminated land.
  • A plan-led approach which responds to the needs and aspirations of local communities.
  • Better use of existing buildings – reduction of VAT on building repairs, which deters responsible maintenance and favours demolition and development on greenfields over building re-use and refurbishment.
  • Protection for urban open spaces, wildlife habitats and sites of historic importance.
  • Local brownfield strategies to tackle brownfield blight, identify opportunities for regeneration and ways to overcome obstacles to brownfield development.
  • A national target of at least 75% of residential development and 85% of commercial development to take place on brownfield sites.


Good land-use planning is the unsung hero of environmental protection. It can encourage urban regeneration, curb urban sprawl, help slow the growth in road traffic, protect the beauty and tranquillity of the countryside and safeguard wildlife habitats.

Effective planning is more important now than ever before with economic pressures and a growing population leading to more development intruding into the countryside.

Precious Green Belt land is being eaten away despite a Government commitment to protect it. Proposed new legislation concerning the planning for major infrastructure projects presents a serious challenge to the integrity of the planning system.

Find out more

• CPRE's policy on brownfield land 
• Planning resources
• Planning campaign briefings


Targeting the countryside

The impact of housing land supply requirements on green spaces and local democracy

Our new research paper shows how a loophole in national planning guidance is allowing developers to bypass local democracy and gain planning permission for large housing developments in the countryside. Our paper was informed by a full research report commissioned by CPRE from respected consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff which is also available below.


The Bigger Picture

The case for strategic planning

This report sets out the case for retaining some form of strategic planning alongside newly empowered local councils and communities. Strategic planning works across local boundaries and is essential to protect the Green Belt and promote urban regeneration, and to co-ordinate development, service delivery, landscape management and conservation of the natural, historic and cultural environment.


The Facts About Planning Appeals

What happens when an applicant appeals against the decision made on a planning application ? and how you can continue to campaign at the appeals stage

If a planning application is refused permission, or conditions are attached to the permission that restrict the development in some way, the applicant may decide to appeal. Only the individual or company who submitted the planning application has the right to launch an appeal against a planning decision. This guide explains the appeals process and how to prepare an effective case to influence any further decision. In doing so, you can help prevent bad development and boost the prospects of good


The Great Landbanking Carve-up

A very risky investment which messes up the countryside

Hundreds of pieces of English countryside are being sold direct to the public, both in the UK and overseas, as a supposedly surefire way of making large amounts of money from the land being built on in future. These so called ‘landbanking’ schemes have sprung up in recent years aimed at gullible punters across the globe and they are starting to mess up the countryside. This briefing presents the results of a CPRE investigation that has found  over 30 landbanking operations marketing plots on over 200 sites across England's countryside.


The Oxford Green Belt Way

A fifty mile walk created by CPRE Oxfordshire around the Green Belt of Oxford

Celebrate the beauty of Oxford's Green Belt with this illustrated pocked-sized guide to the circular walk opened by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in 2007. Special route maps describe the attractive landscape, history and wildlife of the countryside surrounding Oxford. All parts of the walk are within easy reach of four park-and-ride sites, and are also accessed by many regular bus services. The guide is divided into nine stages, providing options for short or long-distance walks suitable for all ages; all walks are waymarked.


The Proximity Principle

Why we are living too far apart
This report argues that housing and planning policy should be governed by the proximity principle: the idea that compact cities, towns and villages produce the best social, economic and environmental outcomes. Proximity brings people and services closer together, reduces the need to travel and uses less land and energy. Before the development of modern transport, proximity was achieved automatically. Today, it can be achieved with careful planning and intervention by government.


The right housing in the right places - CPRE manifesto briefing

We need to save our countryside from unnecessary and damaging development by improving planning policy and guidance.

This is a detailed briefing based on CPRE's manifesto for the 2015 General Election.



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