Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Literary landscape loss lament

30 September 2013

This week, leading contemporary writers and artists joined the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in warning that our matchless and finite countryside is threatened by the Government’s relaxation of planning laws. The group came together to sign a letter to the Sunday Times (published on 29 September) warning that iconic English landscapes are under threat.

The writers support CPRE in saying that Government plans for new homes should prioritise brownfield sites in towns and cities, not the more profitable greenfield sites where housing developers would prefer to build.

In the letter poet Simon Armitage, novelist John le Carre, writer Jeanette Winterson and the sculptor Cornelia Parker argue that the Government’s policy of giving preference to greenfield sites over brownfield sites is threatening the “matchless beauty of England” and failing to provide affordable homes.

In support of the letter, Jeanette Winterson said:

‘Concreting the countryside isn't the answer to Britain's housing problems. This government is out of touch with real life and tries to cover up its privilege by making what it thinks are popular decisions. We need imaginative people, not policy wonks or developers with vested interests, to re-draw the UK housing strategy. I don't know why politicians can't think in colour. Especially the colour green. We can build enough homes. We don't need to lose our fields for that.’

The letter said:

Dear Sir,

In the two months since the launch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s charter to save our countryside we have seen new research showing that over half a million houses are planned for open countryside, with a further 150,000 in the Green Belt.

The scale of this projected development is unprecedented. This needless sacrifice of our green spaces should not be tolerated when England currently has suitable brownfield land for 1.5m new homes which could help regenerate our towns and cities.

As artists and writers who have been inspired by the matchless beauty of England, we urge the Government to support the three basic principles set out in CPRE’s charter to save our countryside.

First, build on suitable brownfield land first, rather than unnecessarily sacrificing the countryside. Second, real localism: give people a proper say in shaping the places they love. Finally, we must build more houses – not executive houses on green fields, as is too often the case now, but well-designed affordable homes in the right places.

We urge your readers to support CPRE’s charter at<>.

Sir Andrew Motion, President, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Simon Armitage CBE

Julian Barnes

Sir Quentin Blake, CBE, FCSD, RDI

The Rt Hon The Lord Bragg FRS FBA FRSA FRSL FRTS

Bill Bryson OBE FRS

Jane Gardam OBE FRSL

Maggi Hambling CBE

Alan Hollinghurst FRSL

Ken Howard OBE RA

John le Carre

Marina Lewycka

Dame Penelope Lively DBE FRSL

David Lodge CBE

Robert Macfarlane

Alice Oswald

Cornelia Parker OBE RA

Philip Pullman CBE FRSL

Rose Tremain CBE

Jeanette Winterson

Benjamin Zephaniah


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Hay field harvest

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