There is increasing evidence that planning reforms are not working. The Green Belt, protected areas and other parts of the countryside are all threatened with serious damage. CPRE recognises the need for new housing and infrastructure, but this should be located in the right places, well-designed to fit with the landscape, and planned with long-term vision.
There are special controls over development in nationally protected landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty), statutory wildlife sites, and in Green Belts. Yet together these areas cover just 45% of England’s countryside.
More than a third of England’s countryside is high quality (Grades 1-3a) agricultural land and much of it falls outside designated landscape or wildlife areas. Only a small proportion of this land has any particular protection. This land is at risk from new development, especially when close to towns. This threatens both our countryside and national food security.
Changes in national policy have resulted in greenfield sites being used when suitable brownfield sites are available. From 1989 until 2011, on average, an area larger than the city of Southampton has been lost every year to development. Local authorities and planning inspectors are now increasingly allowing large-scale greenfield development when enough suitable brownfield land is available for more than 1 million new homes.
We want to make sure that planning across the country regenerate towns and villages, provide the affordable housing we need, and protect the countryside.