Figures released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) yesterday support former Architecture and Heritage Minister John Penrose’s concerns that green fields are under threat because local Councils won’t ‘build up, not out’.
The CPRE figures show that more than half local councils don’t have a Local Plan in place, with the March 27th deadline rapidly approaching. Without a plan, it’s more likely that developers will apply to build on green field sites rather than redeveloping Britain’s town centres and High Streets, which are in danger of being hollowed out by online shopping and out-of-town malls and precincts. The pressure from developers will be bolstered by Britain’s urgent need for extra housing: planning Minister Nick Boles says the country needs an extra 270,000 new homes each year.
In a Parliamentary debate last week, John Penrose proposed that town centres and High Streets could be regenerated, green fields saved and the housing shortage solved, by building ‘up, not out’ instead. The Sustainable Development & Housing Minister, Don Foster, confirmed that Councils now have most of the powers to do precisely this if they wish, but that many don’t understand how to do it. He promised John that his Department would circulate new information and guidance to ensure Councils could get on with the job promptly.
John Penrose said: “The CPRE’s figures show we’ve got to get with educating local authorities about what they’re allowed to do, and push them to get cracking. Many of our most beautiful town centres and High Streets need investment so they can keep their local character while still being vibrant, successful commercial and community centres too. And at the same time, many local people would love to afford their own home, but there just aren’t enough places to go round. The answer isn’t to build all over Britain’s beautiful green fields: instead we should build ‘up, not out’. But we can’t do it without those local plans, so the Minister needs to deliver on his promise to give Councils the help and guidance they need to get this done in time. The clock is ticking.”
Link to Campaign to Protect Rural England Report: http://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/3245-government-take-action-risk-widespread-poorly-planned-development