Western Morning News – CPRE slams new policy

The region’s landscape is coming under increasing pressure because of the Government’s “misguided” planning policies, it is claimed.

Countryside campaigners have already called for a Parliamentary inquiry into national planning policies as concerns have grown about the threat of development.

Bob Barfoot, chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in North Devon, said targets in Devon and Cornwall were “too high” and based on inaccurate data. They also failed to distinguish between the homes which were needed to meet local demand, he said.

“We do need housing but of the right type,” Mr Barfoot, who lives near South Molton, said. “We don’t need executive market housing particularly in Devon and Cornwall because the wages are just not there. We need housing that is genuinely affordable for local people and we are just not getting them.”

Conservationists have grown increasingly worried by reform of the planning system as part of the Government’s strategy for economic recovery. They particularly fear protections afforded to treasured landscapes, including national parks, are being undermined.

Mr Barfoot said homes were being built without any thought to where people might work and without bolstering the necessary infrastructure. He said: “(Chancellor) George Osborne’s view seems to be that the more housing that is built the greater the economic growth will be. They also think that house prices might come down – well pigs might fly. It is like an open door policy to development in the countryside.

“Developers love it because it is cheaper to build on greenfield sites rather than brownfield land but God help our countryside.”

Last year, the CPRE published a report which it said showed “unprecedented pressure on our most treasured countryside”. It said the current planning framework had resulted in housing, energy, transport and tourism development in hitherto “protected” areas despite assurances from the Government that national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be safeguarded. It now wants an official investigation into the impact of development threats and recommended policy changes.

For the full article, read here