Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Protecting the countryside through better planning

CPRE ensured the countryside didn't become a developers paradise CPRE ensured the countryside didn't become a developers paradise © WDG Photo/Shutterstock

CPRE's work in 2011/12 has been dominated by our campaign against the Government's attempts to weaken protection for the environment enshrined in the planning system - one of the most significant threats to the countryside we have seen in decades. CPRE President Sir Andrew Motion joins CPRE staff in describing how the battle was won.

We know what sort of England we would have today in the absence of CPRE and planning - the US, which has a population only six times greater than ours, loses an area of land one hundred times greater to developers each year. Once gone, gone forever. Planning forces us to show discipline in our use of land; something which is essential in our small and densely populated country. It is more costly and requires more imagination to regenerate derelict urban sites, but this policy can help the economy while reducing the pressure to develop our precious Green Belts. Over the last 12 months, much of our work has revolved around the defence of a planning system which protects our most valued countryside and ensures that development benefits the communities as well as the economy.
Peter Waine
Chairman, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Thanks to CPRE's campaign, proposals which would have left over half of rural England at the mercy of developers were strengthened to respect plans agreed by local people, while encouraging the resuse of derelict sites, protection of tranquil areas and reduction of light pollution. Crucially, the final National Planning Policy Framework also recognised the intrinsic character and beauty of all countryside.
Sir Andrew Motion
President, Campaign to Protect Rural England


Helping people become campaigners
'CPRE mobilised our online activists to send over 17,300 emails protesting the weakening of the planning system. This included 3,016 letters to newspapers, 9,082 letters to MPs, and 5,234 responses to the Government’s consultation – over half the total received.'

Laura Jansen
Senior Campaigns Communicator

Persuading Parliament
'In Westminster, CPRE cemented our reputation as the leading NGO on planning, being mentioned 87 times in Parliament during the debates on the reform of the planning. We worked with Zac Goldsmith MP to co-ordinate a letter signed by 45 coalition MPs urging the Government to retain protections for the wider countryside, and provided maps to 150 MPs showing the countryside at risk in their constituencies. We made our case at two select committee inquiries and four meetings of the All Party Group on Housing and Planning, personally briefing another 37 MPs and 16 Peers.'
Adam Royle
Senior Parliamentary Officer


Adding weight to our case
'We published research showing that the Government's planning reforms would not generate economic growth but could undermine the public wellbeing created by good planning. A Legal Opinion obtained from John Hobson QC, our Honorary Standing Counsel, supported our arguments that the reforms would weaken protection for countryside, and hamper economic growth by increasing in costly planning appeals. We campaigned hard against the Government's removal of the 'brownfield first' policy - introduced after CPRE campaigning - from their draft planning framework. Our research showed that there is an increasing supply of brownfield (derelict) land suitable for development, and that since 1995, previously developed sites absorbed new housing which could have covered an area of countryside seen times the size of Southampton. This helped to ensure the final framework included guidance encouraging the re-use of brownfield land '
Neil Sinden
Director of Policy and Campaigns


Building our media profile
'During the campaign, CPRE were the leading voice in 30 front page national newspaper articles, 24 letters to editors, 30 editorials and 92 national broadcast reports.'

Jack Neill-Hall
Senior Press Officer

'The Government's draft National Planning Policy Framework triggered widespread concern, with its emphasis on development at any cost. It is thanks to great organisations like the CPRE and the National Trust that the public were motivated to lobby their MPs and the Government for change. The effect can be meansured  in the revised draft, which absolutely took on board those organisations' concerns.'
Zac Goldsmith MP

'CPRE is very frequently an almighty nuisance, and this is absolutely as it should be. It's absolutely necessary to have a group of people who are utterly devoted to the protection of rural England.'
Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
Minister for Government Policy

Planning forces us to show discipline in our use of land; something which is essential in our small and densely populated country.

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