2020: CPRE’s impact
We’re only half way through the year and we’re already seeing our work influence government bills and announcements.
January’s new Agriculture Bill was based on the kind of ‘new model farming’ CPRE has championed since 2016. Our lobbying helped ensure that the Bill incorporates the principle of ‘public money for public goods’, with funding for farmers based on the benefits they offer us all: whether producing environmentally sustainable food, maintaining public access or increasing biodiversity. The Bill also adopted CPRE’s specific demand that farmers should be rewarded for protecting or improving the soil that mitigates the impact of the climate crisis by absorbing floodwater and storing carbon. As the new payment schemes are developed, CPRE will be working to ensure smaller farmers, and those pioneering nature-friendly techniques, receive all the help they need to thrive.
CPRE helped coordinate the first-ever National Housing Design Audit, rating 140 schemes across England on design quality and sustainability. We concluded that developers must do much more to comply with design standards and energy efficiency targets, while avoiding sprawling, car-dependent communities. The government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission took on board our recommendations that new developments must protect and enhance our built and natural environments. Meanwhile, the housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced plans for a ‘green revolution in house building’ based on good design, higher densities and lower carbon emissions.
CPRE commissioned new research in the first attempt to score and rank the public transport options that are so vital for rural communities. We found that nearly one million people in the north east and south west struggle to access buses and trains, while 56% of 160 country towns surveyed risk becoming ‘transport deserts’ cut off from basic services. The project helped influence the government’s plans to spend £5bn on bus and cycling schemes ‘to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive.’ We’re now calling for the creation of a dedicated rural transport fund, so that future investment has a real impact in connecting the countryside.
A March 2020 announcement set out government plans to encourage better use of previously developed land for housing through £400m of new funding and the creation of a national brownfield map. Both are the result of CPRE campaigns and vindicate our research showing that recycling suitable brownfield sites can create a million new homes. The same month saw the government’s Budget announcement include £12.2bn of funding for affordable homes, after earlier CPRE calls for investment as part of a coalition with Crisis and the National Housing Federation.