We are very concerned about fracking company Ineos’ recent attempts to remove local decision-making powers from councils in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. Ineos, who applied earlier this year to drill exploratory wells near Eckington in NE Derbyshire and Harthill in Rotherham, have now asked the government to intervene on the grounds that the local councils have taken too long to decide.
These are complex cases where both councils must fully evaluate the likely impacts. To do this takes both time and care and the councils have had to ask Ineos to provide further environmental information. We think it both unfair and unreasonable for Ineos to now bypass that process. This disregard for local democracy is unacceptable.
Both drilling applications and the new appeals have ignited fury in local communities and with local politicians such as Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley and Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis. For the past year, CPRE South Yorkshire and Friends of the Earth’s regional staff have been supporting affected communities with planning and advocacy advice.
CPRE South Yorkshire is fully committed to helping local communities fight fracking and will work to ensure strong arguments are put to the forthcoming planning inquiries so that Ineos’ bully-boy tactics don’t succeed.
Our CPRE colleagues in Kent have won a momentous victory at the Supreme Court this week, upholding the Appeal Court’s quashing of planning permission for development in the Kent Downs AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) near Dover. Of course, AONB status signifies national recognition of some of our finest countryside so we should not ever have to fight such cases, but where we do, it is inspiring and fortifying to see sense prevail.
"Huge congratulations are due to the expert volunteers and staff of CPRE Kent who worked so hard to achieve this outcome, which I’m sure will encourage all of us across the country." Crispin Truman, CPRE CEO
"Sometimes we really can save the countryside! A planning permission for over 600 houses, none of which would have been affordable and all of which were located in the Kent Downs AONB, was quashed at the Appeal Court, and today that decision has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
This has been a 6-year step-by-step fight to stop entirely the wrong development in the wrong place. CPRE Kent continues to work with Dover groups to support the local plan and affordable and brownfield development."
Christine Drury, Chair of CPRE Kent
Visit the CPRE website for more information: www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4724-cpre-kent-legal-victory-saves-priceless-landscape-at-dover
Our research shows that more green belt and green field sites are being lost but without addressing the desperate need for more well-designed, well-located and affordable homes. At the same time, greedy developers are trying to renege on the provision of affordable housing. So, making more land available to house builders does not increase the number of homes being built, nor does it produce the homes that are most needed. This is a national scandal which unnecessarily threatens beautiful, local countryside.
We have our work cut out. Every time we help local communities fight to save precious green belt and green field sites, we must search through hundreds of documents; analyse local planning policies; liaise with the community; draft our objections and research alternatives; liaise with the community; make objections and attend long running public inquiries.
All this costs time and money. Major house builders have the finances and legal back-up to appeal any decision against them. We have very little except our unyielding determination to stop the green belt suffering death by a thousand cuts. It was our organisation that took the leading role in creating Sheffield’s green belt; eighty years on, we are the only local charity fighting to save it.
What we’re fighting for. We support a ‘brownfield first’ approach which avoids unnecessary use of greenfield sites by first re-modelling the huge areas of wasted urban space which blight our towns and cities to provide attractive and sustainable places to live and work.
Please help! We will not silently mourn the loss of our green belts and the wild open spaces of our childhoods. Instead we will fight to protect them, one green field and one planning application at a time. Help save the local countryside you love by donating to our appeal today.
Please support out Green Belt Appeal - click here to donate.
The number of planning applications being approved on greenfield sites in the Green Belt has nearly doubled since 2012 (when the National Planning Policy Framework came into force).
CPRE research has found that, despite Government commitments to enforce their own policies on Green Belt protection, the number of houses now planned for the Green Belt is over 425,000, an increase of 50% on 2016.
Depressingly, at a time when more than 1.8 million households in England are waiting for a ‘social’ home, nearly three-quarters of the housing proposed on land to be released from the Green Belt will be unaffordable for most people living in the local area.
In fact CPRE’s research showed that since 2009 only 16% of houses built on Green Belt outside of local plans were classed as affordable.
We are deeply concerned about the Chancellor’s proposed release of Green Belt land for major housing development in the upcoming Autumn Budget.
Destroying our Green Belt will not alleviate the problem and countryside will be lost needlessly. It is a false belief that releasing Green Belt land will tackle the housing crisis, as the crisis is one of affordability, not simply land availability.
That's why we're asking local MPs to support our action and join us in calling on the Government to tackle the affordable housing crisis in the upcoming Autumn Budget.
We would like to see the budget include much more effective measures such as stopping the use of viability assessments by developers to undercut their affordable housing requirements plus a mixture of ‘carrot and stick’ to speed up build out rates. Developers’ existing commitments must be met before further land is released. Brownfield sites continue to offer investment possibilities.
Please get involved, stand up for the countryside and write to your local MP - click here for a standard letter to email direct to your MP.
Click here to find your MP in South Yorkshire.
Click here to find your MP in Derbyshire.
Develop in urban areas - but make homes more affordable
If you remember two things after reading this article, we hope they are these. Firstly, there’s no conflict between solving the housing crisis and protecting rural areas – we can and must do both. Secondly, developers can make more profit by building expensive homes than by building affordable ones – and that is the problem at the heart of the crisis.
In Sheffield, as in many other towns and cities, there is no shortage of brownfield land. Some of it is derelict, much more is simply under-used: wasted under acres of surface car-parking around low density retail parks. Re-using this land for new neighbourhoods would not only avoid the city sprawling out into the countryside, but would also breathe new life into run-down areas. Great progress is already being made on this around Kelham Island, but vast areas of the Don Valley from Deepcar all the way to Darnall could benefit from regeneration. The vital missing ingredient to make that happen is public investment: to buy and decontaminate land, reduce flood risk, put in public transport and green spaces, and build homes that people need. As long as the government fails to provide for that investment, we don’t accept that they are genuinely committed to solving the housing crisis.
The only way to solve the housing crisis is to build affordable homes, mainly for social rent. Research by Shelter, the homelessness charity, confirms this. Giving planning permissions to private housebuilders on greenfield sites doesn’t fix the problem, because there’s a natural incentive for them to build large, expensive homes and minimise their contribution to affordability. We’ve seen this happen in many places across Sheffield, and every time a site is developed without building affordable homes, the long-term problem just gets worse.
Most rural land in Sheffield is in the Green Belt, which isn’t just an empty space outside the city, but a vital resource of green spaces bringing the countryside into the city, especially along the river valleys from the Peak District. This has huge benefits for recreation, health, tourism, nature and local food production, and these are all essential for the economy too. CPRE’s Blueprint for Sheffield’s Green Belt sets out our vision for the future: build the right homes in the right places, regenerate urban areas, and enhance our beautiful countryside. It can all be done.
Please support out Green Belt Appeal - click here to donate.
Call for new approach to protect Sheffield’s Green Belt
Following the release of new national data showing increasing threats to green belt from private housing, we have set out a blueprint for providing the homes that Sheffield needs but without needlessly sacrificing beautiful local countryside.
As the campaign group which was responsible for mapping and advocating a green belt for Sheffield in 1937, we have now published a radical vision, aimed at ensuring Sheffield gets the right development in the right place and thus protecting the countryside assets that Sheffield, as the Outdoor City depends on. The report highlights three critical tests:
Firstly Sheffield should only grow outwards if it is already making the best use of urban opportunities, including denser development and use of brownfield sites. Second, any proposed changes to the Green Belt must deliver truly special and sustainable development that meets real housing need, especially in respect of affordable and social housing. And lastly, great care must be taken in re-developing brownfield sites in the Green Belt, such as the Hepworth’s site in the Loxley Valley.
“Sheffield’s Green Belt has never been more valuable to us, nor has it been under greater threat since we first fought for its protection in the 1930s” commented Andrew Wood, planning officer and co-author of the report, “A crazy numbers game, imposed by central Government, and uninspiring ‘Lego-land’ developments by the big house-builders risk losing all that is special about our local countryside. Something has to change and change quickly and we look to the City Council and its planners to take up the challenge. We hope this report will spur everyone to understand there are win-win solutions possible”.
We recognise that new homes are vital but both this report and national research shows that current house building plans will do very little to address the affordable housing crisis faced by many families and young people. The only people set to benefit from future release of Green Belt land will be landowners and the big house-builders, not communities in need of decent, affordable housing.
For more information contact Julie Gough at firstname.lastname@example.org or (0114) 279 2655. Andrew Wood can be contacted on 07735 064651
- When Sheffield City Council release their draft Local Plan it will include a review of the Green Belt and where protection may be relaxed to allow for development. See the Emerging Sheffield Plan here: www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/planning-development/policies-plans/sheffield-plan
CPRE calls for funding to stem loss of
A new report by CPRE illustrates that England is rapidly losing its network of smaller farms, and the diversity in food and landscape they provide.
CPRE’s Uncertain Harvest uses official statistics from the UK and Europe to demonstrate that smaller farms in England are in steep decline. Overall, a fifth of English farms have disappeared in the past 10 years, but the rate is fastest amongst the smallest farms. Almost a third of farms under 50 hectares disappeared between 2005 and 2015.
Should these trends continue, CPRE suggests that farms under 50 hectares could all but disappear from the English countryside by the middle of the century.
CPRE believes that a mix of farm sizes and enterprises is crucial to maintaining England’s world-renowned landscapes and diversity of food. As part of this mix, smaller farms are vital to the countryside as they sustain rural communities through jobs and protect distinctive local character. In their diversity of approaches, they create greater diversity in food production and conservation, both of which shape rural heritage and rural economies.
Competition and market pressures have put great strain on smaller farms, with supermarkets controlling 90% of the retail market and forcing down prices. During this time, smaller farms have also faced an inequitable funding model through the Common Agricultural Policy.
Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the Government has pledged to pursue a new funding settlement that rewards farmers for public goods and environmental benefits rather than the size of land holdings. The future structure of public funding will likely determine the future of many smaller and struggling farms.
Graeme Willis, food and farming campaigner at CPRE, said: “There is a silent crisis in the farming sector. While it is not a case of small versus big, smaller farms are vital to the diversity of our rural communities and our beautiful landscapes.
“To help smaller farmers succeed, the Government must research the health of the farming sector and assess the impact of any new funding model. Public finance should be designed with tapering to support all farmers for providing public benefits, and smaller farmers should be given a strong voice in the distribution of local funding. We must also make sure markets are fair and support our farmers. We all want a diverse, thriving countryside and wonderful food. Smaller farms are integral to both.”
To tackle the stark decline in smaller farms, CPRE recommends that the Government undertake research to assess the current health of the farming sector, especially in respect of the market, and to work out how any new funding models can help farms of all sizes prove economically and environmentally sustainable. Any regional-based funding must ensure small farmers have a strong voice to determine share and distribution, and assist new and young farmers across the sector.
Sheffield’s Green Belt has never been more valuable.
As the charity responsible for mapping and advocating a green belt for Sheffield in 1937, we have now published a radical vision, aimed at ensuring Sheffield gets the right developments in the right places and thus protecting the countryside assets which Sheffield, the Outdoor City, depends on. Three critical tests are highlighted.
- Firstly Sheffield should only grow outwards if it is already making the best use of urban opportunities, including denser development and use of brownfield sites.
- Second, any proposed changes to the Green Belt must deliver truly special and sustainable development that meets real housing need, especially in respect of affordable and social housing.
- And lastly, great care must be taken when re-developing brownfield sites in the Green Belt, such as the Hepworth’s site in the Loxley Valley.
“Sheffield’s Green Belt has never been more valuable to us, nor has it been under greater threat since we first fought for its protection in the 1930s” commented planning officer and co-author of the report, Andrew Wood, “A crazy numbers game, imposed by central Government, and uninspiring ‘Lego-land’ developments by big house-builders risk losing all that is special about our local countryside. Something has to change and change quickly and we look to the City Council and its planners to take up the challenge. We hope this report will spur everyone to understand there are win-win solutions possible”.
CPRE recognise that new homes are vital but both this report and national research shows that current house-building plans will do very little to address the affordable housing crisis faced by many families and young people. The only people set to benefit from future release of Green Belt land will be landowners and the large house-builders, not communities in need of decent, affordable housing.
Join us in Buxton for the launch of this exciting new long distance trail around our beautiful Peak District National Park. With Emma Bridgewater.
Fancy being the first to open the trail?
Why not join us for a celebration of "first-footing" the route from 9am.
There are 20 start points. See below to find your nearest walk.
- Buxton Market Place