Campaigners Launch Action Against Threat Of New Housing Sprawl

'Unleashing a wave of market housebuilding across the country will do little or nothing for those in greatest housing need. But it will cripple efforts to regenerate run-down urban areas and leave permanent scars on one of our greatest environmental assets: the countryside.'

This is the message from CPRE's Director of Policy, Neil Sinden, as campaigners gather in London to launch a campaign to persuade the Government to reconsider proposals on planning for housing. The Government published its proposals for consultation at the height of the summer holiday period — and broke its own consultation guidelines by giving the public less than half the usual period to respond.

The proposals aim to bring in recommendations for radical changes to the planning system first made by Kate Barker, a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, in her review of housing supply. The central idea is to make market forces — in the form of house prices — a dominant factor in the scale, location and release of land for housing development.

CPRE fears that, if put into practice, the proposals would trigger a surge in housebuilding on the outskirts of some of our most attractive towns and villages and across the countryside. These are already under huge development pressure. At the same time, they would undermine years of progress in prioritising re-use of urban 'brownfield' land. Communities and individuals everywhere are being urged to speak out against the proposals. CPRE is providing campaign tips and advice to help them take action.

Neil Sinden said: 'The Government needs to listen to the widespread public concern about its plans. Parts of the country desperately need more affordable housing but — as Kate Barker herself pointed out — a huge wave of housebuilding for sale wouldn't even dent that problem. Yet, it would threaten the future health of our towns and cities, and wreck the countryside. That's why we're launching this campaign, and urging everyone who cares about the future of our countryside to speak up now, before it's too late.'

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