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Lancashire - Campaign to Protect Rural England

Planning reforms putting rural England under siege

Monday, 24 March 2014 14:29

Site of 504 houses to be built in the Ribble Valley, south-west of Whalley Road, Barrow Site of 504 houses to be built in the Ribble Valley, south-west of Whalley Road, Barrow Photo: © Jackie Copley

CPRE has launched a new report concluding that the Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and undermining local democracy while failing to prioritise the reuse of brownfield land and regeneration of urban areas.

CPRE’s report Community Control or Countryside Chaos? analyses the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the countryside in the two years since it was adopted. The research has found that the reforms are forcing local councils to accept major developments against their will in all parts of the country. It reveals plans for over 700,000 houses in the countryside - including 200,000 allocated for the Green Belt.

As a consequence, the countryside surrounding towns and villages across England is under siege. Sites already earmarked for housing are being left undeveloped while councils are under increasing pressure to allocate more and more land for future development.

This pressure has significantly slowed the rate at which local plans are being adopted, meaning councils are powerless to decide what land should be developed in the best interests of local communities.

The report also reveals that only a quarter of local authorities propose to prioritise brownfield sites over greenfield because the NPPF does not give enough support for them to do so.

CPRE’s research shows over two thirds of appeals for major housing have gone in favour of developers in the last year. Councils are increasingly reluctant to defend an appeal due to the risk of incurring costs, which can go into the hundreds of thousands of pounds if they reject inappropriate development that is ultimately overturned.

CPRE Lancashire has conducted its own research which shows that 60 hectares of land (on some thirteen sites) in countryside across Lancashire has been allowed at appeal. The permissions will see 1,404 dwellings built on green-fields against the wishes of local communities and in the majority of cases the five year housing land supply rule was the dominant issue.

Jackie Copley, Planning Manager for CPRE Lancashire commented:

'This sporadic and speculative housing free- for-all is unsustainable, anti-democratic and threatens our best countryside.

'We think the Government ought to allow land with planning permission for housing to be unconditionally included in the land supply calculations to make the planning system more balanced and to allowed development that is truly sustainable.

'We do want to see houses being developed in the most sustainable way which means prioritising brownfield land first and only using rural fringe sites identified through the Local Plan process. This is the most basic expectation of the planning system – if it doesn’t do this it doesn’t work.'


To focus more effort on important rural campaigns CPRE Lancashire has closed the Springfield Office in Leyland.  To get in touch with us, please contact or phone 01772 378831. Post can be sent to CPRE Lancashire, c/o Acres Brook, Sabden Road, Higham, BB12 9BL

Registered charity number: 1107376, registered company number: 05291461