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Budget: CPRE comment

Measures to promote the better use of urban land, particularly high quality high density development, while committing to continued Green Belt protection, mean CPRE gives a cautious welcome to today’s Budget.

‘It is heartening to see that the Government is finally starting to heed advice that the new homes the country needs can be built, without unduly harming the countryside in the process - although we still have concerns about proposed planning reform,’ said Matt Thomson, head of planning for CPRE.

‘We are particularly pleased to see that there is at last to be an inquiry into the gap between planning permissions granted and build out rates – pushing for speedier action by developers to build what they’ve promised, before more land is released for development. We hope that inquiry will also cover sites that communities have identified in local and neighbourhood plans, plus sites on the new brownfield registers. However, action needs to be taken on these issues in the short term, too, and we look forward to seeing the Communities Secretary’s proposals.’

But, he added, the Budget continued to focus on releasing more land to meet a headline target of numbers of houses (now 300,000 a year). Fewer houses are being built now than ten years ago, but with twice the amount of land released. And yet the budget showed little evidence of thinking on how this would meet communities need for the type of houses.

'Most notably, a real commitment to affordable housing is missing – the crux of the housing crisis - rather than a simple battle for numbers. And in rural areas this is more acute, with only 8% of homes being affordable. Much clearer measures are required to provide houses that people can afford to live in, and not just in the areas of highest demand and in urban areas. This is the true housing crisis that needs to be tackled. Otherwise high demand areas will continue to overheat and put our countryside under yet more pressure.’

In other areas, CPRE was pleased to hear the Chancellor’s mention of investigating measures to tackle waste. ‘The Government’s increasing focus on ridding our lives of unnecessary single-use plastics is great news,’ said Samantha Harding, CPRE litter programme director. ‘It would make sense for the current investigation into putting a deposit on drinks containers to be followed by others that could determine whether deposits, charges or taxes work best to prevent plastic polluting our countryside and oceans.’

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