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Greenfield ‘ripped up at an alarming rate’ due to ‘market-driven rhetoric,’ CPRE says

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has analysed an annual report published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

They have revealed that the area of non-previously developed land lost to housing annually has been steadily rising, from 2,105 hectares of land in 2013 to 3,332 hectares of land in 2017.

This ‘alarming’ loss of countryside to housing is taking place despite a promising increase in the proportion of housing development taking place on brownfield land.

Previously, Government data showed a decrease in the proportion of land developed for housing that was brownfield, which down to 28% in 2016, from 41% in 2013. However, last year’s data shows that the proportion of land used for housing had increased to 44% brownfield, back to levels similar to 2013.

The ‘rapid concreting over’ of the countryside has been propelled by a ‘market-driven rhetoric’, with the government opting for a ‘build-more-at-any-cost approach’, which has led to low-density unaffordable homes being built on our green spaces which the CPRE says will not help solve the housing crisis.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:  ‘Whilst the increase in the proportion of development taking place on brownfield land is promising, the lack of reduction in greenfield development is alarming news for those who love the countryside. Developers are still able to force through land-hungry, greenfield development even when brownfield options exist, often only benefitting their own profits.’

‘Without a clear, national policy that empowers councils to refuse applications for housing on greenfield land where suitable brownfield options exist, our cherished countryside will continue to be ripped up at an alarming rate.’

‘Brownfield land is a renewable resource, with new sites constantly being brought forward. It is often quicker to develop than greenfield land, and the majority is in areas that people want to live, best suiting their lifestyle and needs. It also helps towards the regeneration of our towns and cities. It is a win-win for all.’

CPRE has called for the introduction of an explicit policy in the revised National Planning Policy Framework that ensures suitable brownfield sites are developed before greenfield sites are released, and which prevents developers from cherry-picking greenfield sites.

They also say more should be done to encourage councils to be proactive in identifying opportunities to provide new homes on brownfield sites and to use Brownfield Registers to bring suitable sites forward for development.

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