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Housing and planning

Our Green Belt: worth investing in

This report summarises the key findings of 'Nature Conservation and Recreational Opportunities in the Green Belt', produced for CPRE by environmental consultants ADAS.

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Plan B: How to challenge bad developments in court

A short guide to how and when you can challenge planning decisions in the courts

This guide is principally aimed at members of the public and community groups who are concerned about a proposal for development which has gained, or may gain, planning permission, and outlines the scope for legal challenge of land use planning decisions. It will help you decide whether you have a case for a judicial review or statutory challenge, and sets out how the procedure currently works following recent Government changes.

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Planning explained

England’s planning system shapes new development and the use of land all over the country with the aim of achieving outcomes that are positive for people, the economy and the environment. This guide will help you to get involved in the development of your Local Plan - a key component of the planning system which will be the main influence on how your area changes in the future.

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Protecting the wider countryside

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) proposes removing a critical policy which recognises the national importance of the countryside as a whole. This research maps these areas and shows that unless the Government revises the NPPF, more than half of the English countryside could be under greater threat from inappropriate development than before. The report recommends that the final NPPF should retain explicit recognition of the intrinsic value of the wider countryside and the character of the countryside, while favouring the efficient use of land rather than urban sprawl.

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Removing obstacles to brownfield development

With recent statistics showing that housing development is decreasing on previously developed sites but increasing on the Green Belt, Removing obstacles to brownfield development calls for Government to implement a range of inventive policies to realise the potential of brownfield house building.

The paper calls for:

  • the taxation of uncompleted housing for which planning permission has been granted on brownfield land;
  • improved funding and assistance for brownfield remediation;
  • special planning measures and state intervention to aid redevelopment;
  • and the increased use of tax increment financing.

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Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside

Our new research has found that housing assessments produced by local authorities (SHMAs) are inaccurate, inflated and unreliable. The housing figures produced by SHMAs are not being balanced with sensible planning for infrastructure, consideration of environmental constraints, and realistic assessments of what housebuilders will be able to deliver.

The full report is also available: Smarter SHMAs: A Review of Objectively Assessed Need in England

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Smarter SHMAs: A Review of Objectively Assessed Need in England

This report by Housing Vision with Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design reviews the methodologies used to determine Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing and the problems caused by unclear and unhelpful guidance. It provides solid evidence and recommendations for our report Set up to fail.

A summary of the report is also available: Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside

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State of Brownfield 2018

An analysis demonstrating the potential of brownfield land for housing

We have long campaigned for prioritising the use of brownfield land for housing because we believe it stops the waste of precious countryside.

This research examines new brownfield registers, published by 320 local planning authorities in England.

It follows previous work from CPRE, including “From Wasted Space to Living Spaces” in 2014 and brownfield housing capacity research in 2016, which has consistently demonstrated that there is sufficient suitable brownfield land currently available for more than 1 million homes.

This report shows that local planning authorities have identified more brownfield land with space for more than 1 million homes, and that there is brownfield land in places where people want to live.

If this land is used more efficiently, the sites could deliver even more homes – preventing the unnecessary loss of countryside and green spaces.

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State of the Green Belt 2018

CPRE’s annual State of the Green Belt report shows that there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that will soon be released from the Green Belt. 

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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.

Planning

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

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