Your voice on planning

A stronger planning system
By 2026, the current emphasis on economic development in planning will be replaced by an integrated, sustainable approach. A new Government-wide initiative will ensure that land use is considered when drawing up economic and social policy. New methodologies, such as measuring quality of life instead of Gross Domestic Product, will help to promote this.

Quality of life
A new focus of the planning system will be on increased use of the “countryside next door”, within a few minutes walk of where people live. Development will be completed sensitively, retaining countryside character while encouraging access and recreation.

Green Belt policy will remain unchanged because of its continued relevance. The system retains its flexibility, though, and some adjustments of particular Green Belts continue to be made in the interest of wider sustainability.

Engagement with civil society
Pre-application consultation will ensure people can continue to have their say on the planning decisions that shape the places where they want to live and work, while protecting the environment. Early engagement means that CPRE and other environmental groups welcome sensitive new development, which are to the benefit of people, business and the environment.

Can we measure quality of life and environmental limits? Give us your views below.


15 responses

  1. Desmond Gunner

    The countryside we enjoy and want to keep was created by wealthy Victorian and Edwardian Landowners for their own personal amenity, but Death Duties broke up many of their estates and the present Planning Laws were designed to preserve land for Food Production by farmers who did not need the large mansions.

    Now the Countryside is valued more for its Amenity, Wildlife and Landscape, we need new laws to enable wealthy owners to take over from working farmers and pay the cost of Environmental Management and Public Access.

    Such people must have appropriate houses, which do not detract from their surroundings, and it should be possible for the planners to grant permission on terms which will benefit everyone – Wildlife, Landscape, Public Access and Owners Amenity – in case it is needed for Food Production again – in 2026 if you are right.

    5 December, 2007 at 5:48 pm

  2. Ernest Whittaker

    The only way to reduce pressure on the rapidly diminishing countryside is to drastically reduce immigration and encourage people to have fewer children. A £250 ‘baby bonus’ brought in by the Government seeks to do the exact opposite. As for immigration it must be slashed (on a non racial basis of course) and it must be done soon or it will be too late. A ban must be brought in on these hideous industrial ‘parks’ that so blight the landscape. No more funds should be made available for road building.

    5 December, 2007 at 9:14 pm

  3. Ray Millard

    I have written several times to CPRE about the need to curb immigration. I finally received a reply to the effect that it was not right for CPRE to become involved in Political Issues.
    I have cancelled my direct debit in favour of joining a party that opposes mass immigration.

    (Note from CPRE: We are sorry that you have decided to cancel your support for CPRE. An article by Shaun Spiers, our Chief Executive, on CPRE’s position on population, land use, and immigration is available from,,2129489,00.html)

    6 December, 2007 at 7:50 am

  4. J Langman

    Personally, I think that population growth is one cause of pressure on the countryside,but it is not the only one. Our current model of economic growth is simply not sustainable, and that is not solely an issue of population.
    We also need to recognise that the increase in the number of households (as opposed to the number of people)nationally is a major pressure; we need to encourage people to share accommodation, for example, by incentivising families to stay together and to live as extended families (which would have other significant social benefits).
    And we need to recognise that ownership of second homes is a major problem; almost every night Channel Four seems to show programmes extolling the virtues of owning ‘a place in the country’ in addition to an urban home and I think that is immoral. The lack of affordable housing in rural areas is exacerbated by pressure from people buying weekend homes, and that in turn increases the pressure to build more. Every second home is one less that is available for a family further down the property ladder and increases the need for more building!

    9 December, 2007 at 8:28 pm

  5. Ann Irving

    Affordable housing is also being gradually diminished by the rash of home extensions [fuelled in part by TV programmes about adding value rather than by family need] and the distressing development of converting or demolishing bungalows to build houses [for the same reason]. In my village area, some older people are having to move out of the area because there is nothing to downsize into. I am also aware of many other elderly people trapped in large family homes for the same reason, and yet there is local demand for more family homes. Is there a way for the planning system to curb some of these developments, to offset the need for building new homes?

    Secondly, on second homes, a number of these are not used as such but simply left empty to grow in value. No doubt they will be sold at some time, but will this be before there is a glut in all new home building? Is there an enterprising bank or trust that could protect people’s excess money withoout it being stored in this physical way?

    21 December, 2007 at 11:32 am

  6. haddynuf

    From what I’ve seen, the present government has no intention of allowing local or nationwide opinions to “interfere” with it’s brazen plans for mass housebuilding, airport development and other matters….and I don’t see this changing by 2026, unless there is a complete change of government and attitude altogether (preferably both).
    The UK is basing its planning on providing homes for immigrants, divorced families (this creates an extra household each time) and all those who want a single lifestyle; if everyone in the country wanted this, we’d need 60+ million houses, so it just isn’t feasible. As it is, our only child still lives with us, and we will continue to house him as long as he wishes or needs, or until such time that it is impractical for him to remain with us. Even then, we are intelligent enough to come up with our own solutions that could provide him with decent accommodation for the rest of his life (and ours) without him having to join the housing-queue.
    Its not just the planning system that needs to be overhauled; people have to realise that the UK is a small island, with limitations. The notion of living as “extended” families is actually very practical in many cases, but you do need a sizeable property in order to achieve practical and private living-space for all concerned.

    8 January, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  7. L. Langridge

    The pressures on our environment (water use, landfill, increased road traffic and roadbuilding, land lost to housing etc etc) are caused by people; the more people the greater the pressures, it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. The present exponential increase in the population is a lunacy which cannot possibly be sustainable in the long term but it will continue despite the best efforts of organisations such as the CPRE as long as we are governed by people who are a)happy to be dictated to by Brussels and b)more interested in short-term economic growth (so that they stay in power)than anything that will benefit future generations.

    17 January, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  8. A.Tate

    Locally in West Sussex protection of the ‘balance’ of small, medium and large houses has been lost in recent planning policy changes. Small rural properties now no longer have a market value in relation to their size but more to their prospect of being a building plot for a large executive home. This has a knock on detrimental effect on the social balance of the rural community. For example couples wanting to live locally and buy say a two bed bungalow find themselves priced out by developers who can easily out bid them as they see the modest bungalow as a site for a 5-bed 3-bathroom executive house.

    As recent as the 1990s there was more protection in planning policies with demolish and rebuild limited to a maximum 25% increase in floor area – no such protection now and only the very limited protection of ‘small homes’ on ‘small plots’ still exists in planning policy statements.

    What of the future ? No one left living and working in the rural community – just commuters and weekenders.

    10 February, 2008 at 2:27 pm

  9. Geof Norris

    Whatever the rights and wrongs on the subject of land use in the UK, the fate of the countryside is surely sealed when the Government`s Statutory Adviser on environmental issues, the so-called `Natural` England can recently assert
    that – I paraphrase – `the Green Belt should be built on because it is only farmland and not beautiful countryside`
    Bearing in mind that `Natural` England is charged with protecting & enhancing the the natural environment, it would appear that, like their predecessors, the Countyside Agency they are more concerned with toeing the Government line than providing realistic and practical advice to their masters. Am I alone in thinkng that our countyside was a good deal safer from development back in the 1980s than currently, in spite of the growth of the environmental protection movement?

    10 February, 2008 at 3:53 pm

  10. Pete from Oz.

    I saw the demise of rural England coming in the 1960’s when I left for the wide open spaces of Australia. Unfortunately the wide open spaces are where no-one wants to live, therefore the more fertile coastal areas are becoming very over populated and densely built upon.
    Australia too has suffered from over-immigration and in the future farm produce, beef, lamb and dairy milk will just be memories.

    21 February, 2008 at 2:59 am

  11. Nick Watson

    I think that reduced commercial incentives to develop greenbelt land should be introduced. I shall explain with a hypothetical, but realistic example:

    Say a 4 acre plot of land in southern england costs £25K. That plot of land is purchased with a view to develop it for building houses. Once planning permission has been granted (which is usually only achieved by large development companies), that same plot of land could easily be worth in excess of £1 million. This windfall increase in value is only due to the planning authorities giving permission to build houses/stables/whatever. The money goes into the pockets of the developers, but the loss is felt by the local residents.

    My solution:
    The treasury takes a significant percentage of the increase in value of any planning development where the (say 80% of anything where the land has changed designation from being just countryside, to having permission to build buildings), and the money received is specifically targeted towards improving the countryside, or incentivising development on brownfield sites. (possibly by treating polluted land, or clearing old brownfield sites that would be otherwise economically unviable to develop, or improving and managing existing nature reserves.)

    The building companies still make (in this case) £200k out of the planning permission, and can further increase the value by actually building the properties; Local residents don’t feel quite so cheated by the planning system, as the money isn’t going solely into the pockets of shareholders; and the countryside takes a benefit from the loss of 4 acres of land.


    26 February, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  12. Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group

    Our group welcomes the development of the green belt especially farmland which often has less value for biodiversity and conservation compared to Brownfield sites which are often targeted for development.

    In many cases important wildlife sites are lost due to the current policy of reusing previously developed land. The most developed land in our view is the farmland which continously disturbed by farming practices – hundreds of acres of farmland could be put to good use to develop new towns with very little impact to important wildlife sites.

    There are ‘brownfield’ sites which lie outside the ‘greenbelt’ which are also targeted for development for example quarries, sand pits, industrial sites etc which have been neglected and left undisturbed while the surrounding rolling countryside has been developed with farming –

    Unless the countryside can be reverted back to nature then it makes no sense to lose wildlife reserves which are de facto found on previously developed land.

    We need carbon neutral developments which are based on sound ecological principles within the greenbelt or on ‘greenfield’ land which has not been developed previously – though it can be argued that farming has led to similar consequences to development in the traditional sense.


    29 February, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  13. Graham Bate

    The Government’s current policy of overiding democratically elected planning authorities and ignoring national, regional and local (UDP) frameworks, guidance and regulations will prove a disaster for the Green Belt.
    This approach is backed by Natural England, who pose as “guardians of England’s natural environment” but have a policy that Green belt land that is “neglected” should be built on.
    What an incentive for land owners to neglect their land. Natural England have supplied no answer at all to the question”How will land owners be stopped from deliberately neglecting and abusing their land in order to gain planning permission” – they have not even attemped an answer after three months.
    We have lost two large Green Belt sites (adjacent to each other) on the fringe of a developed area within the last couple of years.
    This has triggered further applications to develop the next bit of Green Belt.
    The Inquiry was farcical and resulted in an inaccurate report by HM Inspector and a DCLG decision letter similarly containing inaccuracies.
    Further large Green Belt losses are expected shortly.

    5 March, 2008 at 8:48 pm

  14. Tim Baker

    Well done the Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group, another good reason to add to my personal list of good reasons to get rid of that middle class comfort blanket the Green Belt and to then have a grown up debate about the right place for development based on sustainability theories.

    Nick Watson has the right idea, but the tax is in place and is called Capital Gains Tax, was 40% and in recent years for most land owners came down to 10% now 18% from 6th April 2008; however there is no direct connection with that tax and the provision of local services and affordable housing. S106 (planning gain) contributions should do that but most planners in local government have no idea of development economics and so developers usually come out on top.

    6 March, 2008 at 9:33 am

  15. Paul

    We must move towards a de-suburbanisation and managed de-population of much of the countryside, if anything drawing a much stronger distinction between rural and urban areas. The countryside should be encouraged to become a much less attractive option to people who seek to perpetuate their suburban lifestyles against a sterile backdrop of sanitized fields and woodlands.
    Rural roads should be subject to a policy of benign neglect, making them more of an impediment to suburbanisation. Significant areas of countryside should be re-wilded and predators re-introduced. All National Parks should be further protected by far more rigorous planning restrictions, higher funding and concerted efforts to reduce private vehicle traffic. All existing AONBs should be raised to National Park status, all existing greenbelts should be given equivalent protection to current AONBs and subject to landscape and environmental restoration. New greenbelts should be created around every large town and city in the country.
    Large scale re-forestation should take place, making extensive use of species which will be able to tolerate the probable consequences of climate change.
    Agribusiness should be aggresively greened and all non-essential(subsidy chasing)cultivation should be prohibited.

    6 March, 2008 at 10:02 am

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