Posted by: dorsetcpre | November 25, 2016

CPRE warns that inflated and unrealistic housing targets will fail to meet communities’ needs and result in preventable loss of countryside

Shaun Spiers, CPRE chief executive, opened a debate on the ‘Urbanisation of Dorset’ at the Dorset CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) AGM held on 19th November in a packed hall at Cerne Abbas.


Shaun Spiers, CPRE Chief Executive, opened a debate on the ‘Urbanisation of Dorset’ at the Dorset CPRE AGM held on 19th November 2016 at Cerne Abbas Village Hall.

He talked about the Government’s forthcoming White Paper on housing and saw it as a golden opportunity to tackle England’s complex housing crisis. CPRE welcomes predicted measures to promote brownfield development, rein in land banking and incentivise quicker building once planning permission has been granted. We should also do more to encourage well-designed, higher density development in towns and cities with good public transport. Both these measures will result in precious countryside, including the Green Belt, being better protected.


Shaun Spiers said:

“There is a growing consensus both on the need for much more housing and on how to deliver it. The Government has a chance to get the whole nation behind a housebuilding programme that is based on sound planning principles, with a focus on affordability, brownfield land and sustainable housing densities.”

“There have been positive statements by Ministers on the need to open up the housing market rather than relying on a few big house builders; on the need to get big developers building, rather than land banking; and on the need to fund planning departments adequately.”

“So far, so good. But if the Housing White Paper is to have any credibility with countryside campaigners, it must address the main failing of the current system – undeliverable housing targets which lead to acrimonious planning conflicts without increasing the overall number of homes built.”

“Villages and small towns across England are being besieged by multiple planning applications that pay no heed to sustainability or real need. All the evidence is that if you work with communities, they will get behind necessary development, but if you seek to impose it on them, they will fight it.”

“We need realistic and deliverable housing targets that meet local need across the country. And then we need to get on with building the homes the country needs.”

In Dorset we now face a deluge of new housing in both rural and urban areas. The government is demanding that by 2033 Dorset must build 73,000 houses. This will in effect mean that the population of Dorset will rise by at least 150,000, putting enormous pressure on local infrastructure. However, we see no plans as to how we are to cope with such a rise in population, especially in terms of infrastructure and local services.

Peter Bowyer from the PPAC (Pan Purbeck Action Campaign) spoke about the results of the Consultation following the Partial Review of its Local Plan by Purbeck District Council (PDC) and views expressed by residents over the proposal to increase the number of new homes in Purbeck by 5600 by the year 2033 rather than the earlier proposed 2520 homes. The Partial Review had been forced on Purbeck because of challenges by government inspectors to the housing numbers included in the Plan. The lack of genuine affordable housing in Purbeck, where local wages are low but house prices are high in part due to second home ownership, which is a major source of complaint and PDC will explore imposing charges on the latter.

CPRE research found that Strategic Housing Market Assessments produced by local authorities are inaccurate, inflated and unreliable. The ‘Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside’ report shows that erratic ‘need’ figures are not being balanced with sensible planning for infrastructure, consideration of environmental constraints, and realistic assessments of what housebuilders will be able to deliver. In November 2015 CPRE analysed the 54 local plans adopted in the past two years that have included a new housing target. The research shows that environmental constraints are not being taken into account when determining housing targets – even though ministers insist they should be. Just seven of the 54 plans (13%) contain housing targets that are in part determined by environmental factors.

Phil Bisatt, Chair, RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute) South West also spoke as did Sandra Brown, who is involved in the Dorset & East Devon National Park proposal. She focused on the good record in the Parks of supporting affordable homes.

Dorset CPRE is involved with most of the local action groups opposing the housing plans and will be active itself in challenging the policies which lead to inappropriate central government housing targets and proposing ways to reduce them. CPRE strongly supports the need for more Affordable Housing for the next Generation. We need everyone’s support to help protect the Dorset countryside from inappropriate development, and ensure that much-needed new homes are built in the right places.

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