It struck me as an extraordinary state of affairs to read about a proposition that the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) will effectively be working hand in glove with Labour to save our countryside … from what? … from the ravages already being unleashed by the NPPF. It is incomprehensible that our greenfields are not safe under a Conservative (Coalition) Government. In the desperate dash to build our way out of recession, this Government has handed carte blanche to developers and landowners, both drooling over the lottery-sized amounts of money they are likely to make.
I do wonder if this is all some kind of dreadful nightmare … we see all that we hold dear about our fabulous countryside literally about to be bulldozed. Shall we end up taking Sunday afternoon trips into the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to enjoy that which we love most about East Devon … our green, open spaces?
Never have we needed the CPRE more.
The article by Christopher Hope reproduced below appeared under the headline ‘Campaigners CPRE will help Labour dismantle controversial National Planning Policy Framework’ in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 8 June, is available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/10106589/Campaigners-CPRE-will-help-Labour-dismantle-controversial-National-Planning-Policy-Framework.html.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said that it was happy to work with all parties to reform further the planning system.
The Government controversially axed 1,400 pages of planning rules, replacing them with the slimmed down NPPF which is biased in favour of sustainable development.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Labour would scrap the NPPF – which was watered down after an outcry and came into force last year – and replace it with a requirement to build on more brownfield sites.
Neil Sinden, spokesman for the CPRE, said the news recognised that “our beautiful countryside and townscapes are too important to be left to the mercy of the market”.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “We welcome Labour’s recognition that recent planning reforms are failing to deliver the development the nation desperately needs in the places where it is most needed.
“Getting more and better housing development is a high priority, for rural as well as urban communities. But Hilary Benn is right; this can only be achieved by working with rather than against local communities.
“The Treasury’s dogma that planning is an obstacle rather than a solution is, as Hilary Benn identifies, a major problem. This one eyed attitude has plagued both the current and previous Governments.
“CPRE is keen to work with all political parties to address the problems that are becoming increasingly apparent on the ground.”
Mr Sinden added that the “impact of the NPPF one year after it was introduced shows that the NPPF isn’t working and that local authorities are increasingly unable to stop inappropriate development in the countryside.
“It draws attention to the key challenges – making sure we get appropriate brownfield land developed before we make further incursions into precious and irreplaceable green fields, protecting our finest and valued local landscapes from intrusive speculative development, and securing the transport and energy infrastructure we need without undue damage to the countryside.
“On the whole the planning system has served us well for over 60 years. While its complexity can sometimes be a problem, it is an essential tool for managing conflicting pressures over land use and securing the necessary public consent for the development we need.”