Berkshire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Why is the Green Belt so Important?

Prime Minister Theresa May attended our 2016 Branch AGM and endorsed her support for rural values and protection of the countryside. Prime Minister Theresa May attended our 2016 Branch AGM and endorsed her support for rural values and protection of the countryside. Photo: Nigel Keene

Why is the Green Belt so important? "The answer to our housing crises does not lie in tearing up the Green Belt. Barely 13 percent of this country is covered by such a designation but it serves a valuable and very specific purpose. Green Belts exist not to preserve landscapes but to prevent urban sprawl.  That is what they were created for in the 1950s and that is the valuable purpose they still serve today".  - The Prime Minister, The Rt.Hon.Theresa May, MP

CPRE Berkshire has welcomed the 2017 Housing White Paper and the renewed commitment to protect the Metropolitan Green Belt.

We support the following initiatives:

  • Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximizing the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land and regenerating estates.
  • Maintain existing strong protections for the Green Belt and clarify that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in 'exceptional circumstances'  when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements.
  • Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.
  • The actions suggested in the White Paper to deal with land-banking is noted. One of the major threats to the Green Belt is land-banking and deliberate delays caused in building on land with planning permission which puts further pressure on local authorities to consider green-field and Green Belt land.

CPRE are concerned that in order to achieve the 'housing targets' the pressure on the countryside will continue and trust that 'realistic targets' will take account where some planning authorities have a high percentage of Green Belt which should not be developed.

We need this commitment to the Green Belt and other protected areas, particularly for the Berkshire countryside, where so much is Green Belt or in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Brownfield Registers miss 200,000 houses says national CPRE.   Following a successful CPRE campaign every local authority is due to publish an accurate and up-to-date register of brownfield sites that are available and suitable for development by 31st December 2017.  Brownfield Land Registers are failing to record the small brownfield plots that could provide space to an extra 188,734 homes across England, according to a report by national CPRE.  It seems that many small sites suitable for up to 10 houses are being ignored.

The Localism Act received Royal Assent on 15th November 2011 and  has five key measures:

  • Neighbourhood Planning
  • Community Rights
  • Housing - decisions locally
  • Empowering Cities & other Local Areas - improve local accountability
  • General Power of Competence (for Councils)

The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) came into force at the end of March 2012.    Adam Royle, Senior Parliamentary Officer for CPRE, says: "The neighbourhood planning powers in the Localism Act promise to deliver positive outcomes for communities, by giving them a structure in which to make planning decisions for themselves.  Local communities may have their hands tied by national planning policies which say there should be a default "yes" to sustainable development ".                      


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