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Countryside under threat in the dash for economic growth

Housing sprawling into the countryside. Housing sprawling into the countryside. Photo: © Ady Kerry

Two years ago the Government reformed the planning system in England with the introduction of a National Planning Policy Framework. We are concerned that the reforms place too much weight on economic growth and too little to environmental and social needs.

We warned that it would result in more haphazard development, harming the countryside and undermining towns needing regeneration.

Consequences of the planning reforms, two years on
Our latest research has revealed 700,000 houses planned in the countryside - including 200,000 allocated for the Green Belt. Thousands of acres of green fields would be lost. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Local communities are powerless to protect their local countryside
Between March 2013 and March 2014, at least two thirds (39 out of 58) of major housing developments turned down by local councils and taken to appeal were approved by the Secretary of State or government Planning Inspectors. This is double the number of appeals granted in the previous year.

Planning the housing we need, and in the right places
We want to see the housing the country needs developed in the right places that will protect the countryside rather than the ‘predict and provide’ approach being pushed by the Government. We found that only 27% of local authorities outside London plan to set local brownfield targets. We need to make the development of brownfield first, a national planning policy to ensure local councils make this part of their planning.

The planning reforms have made it a requirement for all local authorities to have a Local Plan in place with a five year land supply allocation for housing. Such sites have to be both economically ‘viable’ and ‘deliverable’,  terms which favour housing provided by large house builders on greenfield sites.

Without an approved Local Plan, local councils are under pressure of having their planning decisions being over-ruled by Planning Inspectors. This could open the way to a development free-for-all across a large part of the country.

We are calling on the Government to:

Two ways you can help save England's countryside, before it's too late


oneSupport our campaign with a donation

With your support you can help us persuade the Government to rethink its approach by adopting a brownfield first approach to planning that can help protect our precious countryside.

Link iconMake a donation


twoJoin CPRE and help your local group

Take a look at the case studies from our research, are there areas under threat where you live? CPRE has a local group in every county, standing up for the countryside. By joining your local CPRE group you could help fight local campaigns and make a difference where you live.

Link iconFind your local group
Link iconBecome a member

Find out more

Community control or countryside chaos?Report: Community Control or Countryside Chaos? (PDF 3MB)

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