Posted by: dorsetcpre | November 22, 2017

CPRE welcomes new CEO and Edward Fox to 80th Anniversary AGM

The Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomed its new CEO, Crispin Truman, as well as Edward Fox, its President, to its 80th Anniversary Annual General Meeting last week. The actor read some wonderful poems, including Dorset by John Betjeman , celebrating the county and its countryside to the audience of about a hundred.

Crispin, who was a well-regarded CEO of the Churches Conservation Trust before taking on his new role, spoke of the challenges facing the CPRE as it campaigns on many fronts to protect the countryside, particularly the need to protect Green Belts and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from inappropriate housing developments. He wants to see “a more bottom-up community-led sensitive approach to housing from government, rather than the current adversarial top-down one”. CPRE would also encourage the government to adopt a land-use strategy for England, which currently does not exist unlike Scotland.

He stressed there will be three key themes in 2018. The first is to broaden the appeal of CPRE and present it better. Secondly, CPRE will focus on fewer but bigger campaigns, with the intention to give a more positive image and concentrate on solutions. One of these will be the drive to provide more affordable rural housing, which the government and developers have singly failed to achieve. Thirdly, it will strive to collaborate more effectively with both local county branches as well as other campaigning organisations.

Richard Nicholls, the Chairman of Dorset CPRE’s Trustees, spoke of the problems facing Dorset in particular. The countryside, Green Belts and AONBs are under threat from development while little provision was being made for infrastructure, such as public transport, doctors’ surgeries and improved roads. There was far too little affordable housing. He said ”there should be the right housing in the right places, for the right people in particular young people”.  He was also very concerned over the loss of subsidies to farmers, resulting from Brexit, with the threat of the industrialisation of farming and the adverse impact on the countryside.

In essence Dorset CPRE stands for the same things now as when the branch was opened in 1937 – to retain a beautiful, diverse countryside for the benefit of everyone, wherever they live.  Dorset has a countryside that can give us the big views, open skies and tranquillity we all require, and also a vibrant, productive countryside which provides good livelihoods and the natural products we will need, like food and fresh water. A great deal has been lost, but Dorset still has a glorious countryside which needs CPRE’s care and protection.

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CPRE’s research shows almost 15,500 houses approved in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the past five years despite their ‘protected’ status

A new report published on 15th November 2017 by the CPRE shows there has been an 82% increase in new housing units given planning permission in England’s 34 AONBs in the past five years, despite repeated commitments by the Government to ‘maintain national protections for AONBs for the benefit of future generations’. This represents almost 15,500 housing units since 2012, while the number of housing planning applications has more than doubled in that time [1].

Although AONBs have the highest level of planning protection, CPRE’s report Beauty betrayed: how reckless housing development threatens England’s AONBs shows a five-fold increase in the amount of AONB land set to be lost under concrete in these treasured landscapes.

Beauty betrayed AONB ResearchThe report is based on research commissioned by CPRE [2], and includes data from Glenigan, data specialists on the UK construction industry. It shows clear evidence that housing developers are applying increasing pressure on local authorities to build new homes on AONBs by exploiting poorly defined and conflicting national planning policy.

CPRE’s report also shows that the pressure on local authorities is set to increase, with applications for a further 12,741 homes in AONBs currently awaiting decision. Based on the 2016/17 housing approval rate of 64%, this could mean a further 8,154 units, resulting in a total of 23,639 units being approved in AONBs since 2012.

Unsurprisingly, pressure for development within AONBs – defined by the number of applications, approvals and housing units – is highest in the South East and South West. In these areas, just eight AONBs account for 74% of all housing applications and 79% of all approvals from 2012-2017.

Emma Marrington, CPRE Senior Rural Policy Campaigner, said:

“What is, in effect, a sell-off of AONBs is surely among the worst examples of misguided housing policy, where the drive to build more houses, any houses, no matter how unaffordable, to meet housing targets, is at the cost of our most beautiful landscapes.

“While CPRE advocates the building of right homes in the right places, AONBs are definitely not the right place. On top of this, current development on AONBs shows little evidence that what’s built will actually help solve the housing crisis, which is more to do with affordability than lack of land.”

England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) cover 15% of the country. Their origins stem from the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, presented as a gift to the nation for its war-time sacrifices.

Although AONBs rely on local authorities and planning inspectors for their protection, the sheer weight of applications and appeals means that large and inappropriate housing developments are getting through as local authorities struggle under pressure from developers.

CPRE calls on the Government to:

  • Amend the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to state a presumption against proposals for large housing developments in AONBs. It should be made clear, as it is for Green Belt, that demand for housing or the lack of a five-year supply is unlikely to justify large housing developments in AONBs.
  • Include targets in the promised 25-year Environment Plan to ensure that development does not damage landscape quality. This would emphasise the importance of AONBs to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the nation and set out how they will be better protected.
  • Give all AONBs the statutory right to be consulted for major development proposals in their area, so that their advice is fully considered when determining a planning application.
  • Reform the New Homes Bonus scheme for local authorities so that it no longer encourages large-scale housebuilding in AONBs.
  • Publish annual statistics on the rate of development and other changes of land use in AONBs, as is already done for Green Belts.

[1] CPRE’s Beauty betrayed: how reckless housing development threatens England’s AONBs shows there has been a dramatic increase in new housing units given planning permission in England’s 34 AONBs in the past five years.
[2] D Dixon, N Sinden and T Crabtree, An Independent Review of Housing in England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 2012-17, 2017.

 

 

 

Posted by: dorsetcpre | October 30, 2017

Autumn edition of ‘The Dorset Review’

This year Dorset CPRE celebrates 80 years of campaigning for the countryside. In essence, we stand for the same thing now as we did back in 1937 – to retain a beautiful, diverse countryside for the benefit of everyone, wherever they live. A countryside that can give us the big views, open skies and tranquillity we all need to get away from it all. But also a vibrant, productive countryside which provides good livelihoods and the
natural products we will need forever – like food and fresh water. A great deal has changed, a great deal has been lost – but Dorset still has a glorious countryside which needs CPRE’s care and protection.

Autumn Review 2017 cover page

The autumn 2017 edition of ‘The Dorset Review’ gives an update on the work of our district groups, our 80th Anniversary, Dorset Best Village Shop, Dorset Local Food Producers, Litter Campaigns, AGM, Farming and various topics.

The CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) campaigns for a beautiful and living countryside. We work to protect, promote and enhance our towns and countryside to make them better places to live, work and enjoy, and to ensure the countryside is protected for now and future generations.

Graham Harvey, farming author and agricultural story editor to Radio 4’s The Archers, has kindly offered to put on his new play and appear for a Q and A at the end about the issues raised, farming and all things Archers and Ambridge. 

The play No Finer Life is based on a true story about a young farmer, George Henderson, who took on a small Cotswolds farm and transformed it into one of the most productive farms in the country, which he followed with a best-selling book The Farming Ladder.

Rebecca BaileyThe play tells the story through the eyes of the young girl who visited him and became his wife.

Elizabeth is played by Rebecca Bailey and the show is directed by James Le Lacheur, who has recently spent a year in London’s West End in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

It will be performed on Monday 2nd October, 7.30 pm, at the Digby Memorial Hall in Sherborne. The event is being organised by our Sherborne and District Society CPRE Group.

Tickets are £12 to include a glass of wine and can be purchased from Peter Neal (peter.neal21@outlook.com), the Sherborne Tourist Information Centre or online using this link.

 

Farming Foresight report

Farming Foresight report from CPRE August 2017

Farming Foresight report from CPRE August 2017

On 9 August, CPRE released its new Farming Foresight report, Uncertain harvest: does the loss of small farms matter? The latest paper in CPRE’s Farming Foresight paper looks at the data on farm numbers and sizes and raises questions about the loss of farms and their diversity. Senior rural policy campaigner Graeme Willis at our National Office spoke about the report on BBC Farming Today and in The Times (9 August).

The report was also covered in the regional press and trade press, including Farmers Weekly and Farming UK (10 August).

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