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28th Apr 2017 New Chief Executive for national CPRE

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is pleased to announce the appointment of a new chief executive, Crispin Truman, who has led The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) for more than a decade.

Crispin has been chief executive of the CCT since 2003, during which time he has been responsible for delivering major regeneration projects and creating partnerships to help sustain local communities and their heritage. His love of the countryside and experiences working with rural conservation groups drove his enthusiasm for CPRE, he said.
"I love being in the countryside and enjoy walking or cycling out of town whenever I get the opportunity," he added. "In my time at CCT I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with rural communities to save their local historic churches - now to have the chance to lead the premier charity working to protect and enhance rural England is fantastic.

"I’m really looking forward to getting to know the thousands of volunteers, members and professionals who make CPRE what it is: working day in day out to keep our countryside beautiful for all."

Chair of CPRE, Su Sayer, said she was delighted at the new appointment. "I am very much looking forward to working with Crispin. He brings with him a wealth of experience and arrives at an exciting time for CPRE as we embark on our new strategic plan and work to promote the countryside with a new Government."

Crispin will start his new role at CPRE on 4 September.

10th Feb 2017 Government publishes Housing White Paper

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) broadly welcomes today’s Housing White Paper, in particular its focus on addressing market failure in the house building industry.

Click on this link to read the CPRE reaction to the Housing White Paper


Click on this link to read the blog by Matt Thomson, CPRE Head of Planning with more detailed thoughts on the Housing White Paper.

13th Jan 2017 Objecting again to Dyson site development

We are objecting to the application for 62 dwellings at Griffs Fireclay Works near Stopes Road in Sheffield. We objected to the previous proposal for 88 houses because although there is clearly a need for the site to be either restored or redeveloped, a substantial housing development standing in open countryside, separately from the built-up area of Stannington, in the Green Belt, is an inappropriate outcome for the site.

This is because:

  • A housing development is very different, functionally, from the previous use of the site, especially in terms of the travel patterns and amenity needs of the prospective new residents, who would be living remotely from the facilities of Stannington and would tend to be car-dependent
  • A large housing development in this location amounts to a new hamlet in the countryside, and the merits of that new settlement can only meaningfully be determined through the Local Plan process, with its associated Green Belt review
  • Allowing housing of this scale outside the built-up area establishes a worrying precedent for similar incursions elsewhere, and pressure for further development between the current edge of Stannington and the application site
  • The appropriate re-use of such a prominent, well-known site must be done in full collaboration with nearby communities, must directly address their needs and aspirations for the area, and must be of exemplary and innovative design.

The slight reduction in the number of dwellings does nothing to mitigate our previous objection.

In considering the previous application, Sheffield City Council accepted an argument made by the applicant, that the brownfield status of the site removed the need for the applicant to demonstrate very special circumstances for developing in the Green Belt. In our view this was an incorrect interpretation of NPPF.

NPPF may allow for ‘limited infilling or the partial redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land) which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt’. But we believe the Council interpreted this wrongly because:

  • The impact on the openness of the Green Belt is not limited to the visual impact of the site. It is abundantly clear that the change of use of the site to residential has a dramatic functional effect on the openness of the Green Belt
  • The former factory pre-dates the Green Belt designation, which washed over it, and therefore the previous purpose of the site is not relevant.

In other words, the development will bring about a change in the characteristics of the site and its immediate surroundings, from one that is essentially open countryside but contains a former factory, to one that includes new, open-market housing typical of volume housebuilders.

Consequently, in our view, the need to demonstrate very special circumstances for inappropriate development in the Green Belt does apply, and this new application provides the Council with an opportunity to revise their previous interpretation.

Whilst we did not agree that a contribution of £1.8m to affordable housing in the area made the development acceptable, we strongly supported the point that provision of affordable housing is a high priority for Sheffield, and that no development should go ahead without an appropriate level of affordable contribution.

We therefore take a dim view of the new proposed contribution of £840,000, because the proposed contribution is 47% of the previous one, despite the number of new dwellings being 70% of the previous one.

It is our view that a volume housebuilder solution is not appropriate to this sensitive location, and that the brownfield status of the site does not override the need for the proposal to demonstrate very special circumstances for developing in the Green Belt.

5th Jan 2017 Council protects green belt from development

We were pleased to hear that the city council's planning department have said that they will not tolerate developments which encroach into Sheffield’s green belt.

The owners of White Acres Farm in Stannington tried to gain retrospective approval for a house which they converted from a barn building without planning permission. Councillors dismissed the application as unlawful so the building will have to be returned to its original state.

The aim of the green belt is to prevent the encroachment of urban areas into the countryside and there are only certain types of development that are considered to be appropriate. Sheffield’s green belt was the first in the country to be established, in 1938.

In Sheffield, and the west in particular, the green belt is a really important planning tool to maintain the distinction between the urban area and the open landscape that stretches out into the Peak District. We're delighted to see the council upholding it in relation to the farm but it's slightly ironic that the council did recently give permission for a new hamlet at the Dyson Refractories site.

The council’s interim head of planning Flo Churchill said regulations regarding this kind of development were indisputable. She said “In this particular instance it’s clear cut, because the applicants didn’t put forward any cases of special circumstances to support the development,” she said. “National policy says developments such as this are by definition inappropriate and cause harm.”

The burden is on anyone who wants to build in that green belt - which stretches into the city along green corridors, as well as surrounding it - to show that the benefits of the development outweigh any harm it would cause.

For the full article in the Sheffield Telegraph, click here.

12th Dec 2016 Why we should invest in Green Belts

New research by CPRE shows the huge potential of the Green Belt in terms of amenity and nature conservation. So we are calling on the Government to prioritise investment in Green Belts in the forthcoming 25-year plan for the environment and make sure Green Belt protection is enforced.

Produced by environmental consultants ADAS, "Nature Conservation and Recreational Opportunities in the Green Belt" shows how Green Belt land is particularly valuable in giving people access to the countryside and opportunities for recreation. It also shows how woodland and wetland in the Green Belt can be enhanced to help us mitigate climate change.

Given Green Belt’s protected status, CPRE argues that we have the perfect case for investment in improving these vital public amenities. ADAS’s research sets out several case studies which provide models for how that can best be done in funding terms and by demonstrating where previously derelict industrial sites have been converted to thriving nature reserves and woodland.

CPRE's national planning campaign manager, Paul Miner, comments: “The Green Belt is successful and popular, preventing urban sprawl and giving people the opportunity of getting away from it all. With the increasing pressure of development it is more vital than ever. Yet we are nibbling away at it month by month while the Government looks the other way.

“The Green Belt’s future depends on the Government’s desire to protect it and to fund opportunities to use that land for further public benefits. Yesterday’s car parks and sewage works can be tomorrow’s wetland and woodland, enjoyed by urban and countryside dwellers alike. Given its potential, we should be looking at how public funding can improve Green Belt.”

The research also found that Green Belt land offers more opportunities for recreation than similar areas without Green Belt status, and that new opportunities are coming forward all the time. A third of community forests created in England since 1990 are in the Green Belt, as are 48 new local nature reserves - nearly a third of all created in England since 2009.

The new research shows that England’s Green Belt provides urban dwellers with invaluable access to the countryside: 17% of public rights of way (including both public footpaths and bridleways) are within Green Belts compared with 13% in similar, non-Green Belt areas. Nearly half of country parks, a third of local nature reserves and one fifth of England’s deciduous woodland can be found in the Green Belt.

ADAS’ research also found that Green Belts include a significant proportion of ‘priority habitats’, endangered areas of wildlife and biodiversity that need conservation. The Natural Capital Committee recently argued that that more wetland and woodland on the edge of urban areas would do much to help the recovery of nature and fight climate change.

CPRE is calling on the Government to:

  • Prioritise investment in Green Belt in its forthcoming 25-year plan for the environment. The benefits of such investment to people would be high, given that the Green Belt is the nearest countryside to 30 million people in our largest towns and cities.
  • Reiterate its commitment to protecting the Green Belt as a permanent area of undeveloped land in the forthcoming Housing White Paper.
  • CPRE is also calling on local government in and around large towns and cities to:
  • Use regional park funding models more widely.
  • Introduce long-term management plans in order to deliver enhancements to natural capital and recreational opportunities.
  • Market the Green Belt as a visitor destination in its own right.
  • Create new Green Belts in areas where the evidence suggests they will have most benefit.

To read the full report click here.


17th Nov 2016 Planned greenfield housing estate refused

We're celebrating with the people of Edenthorpe an important defeat for a planned housing estate in the countryside outside Doncaster

Hallam Land Management applied in 2015 to build 650 homes to the east of Mere Lane, Edenthorpe. There were many problems with the proposal. It would be a stand-alone housing estate, accessed from the A630 motorway link road, rather than an organic extension of the existing village. It would close off the 'green wedge' that maintains some open space between Edenthorpe and Armthorpe. It would further harm the prospects of two nearby brownfield sites being developed, and the impact on primary and secondary school capacity had been very poorly thought through. So it's great news that Doncaster Council's Planning Committee has refused the scheme.

Worryingly, the Council's planning team had recommended the application for approval, despite it being so deeply flawed. Thankfully, the Parish Council and a number of Doncaster Councillors did a sterling job in exposing the scheme's weaknesses and passionately explaining why it was the wrong development in the wrong place.

The Planning Committee unanimously rejected the application, as contravening their core planning policies for where new development should be located, adding congestion to the road network and harming education provision in the area.

This would obviously be a lucrative site for the developers, and it seems likely that they will appeal this decision. We will now work hard with the local community, because it's very important that we defeat the appeal. The site cannot be developed sustainably, and it should stay in the countryside.

8th Nov 2016 Calling for refusal of Edenthorpe housing scheme

We are calling on Doncaster Council's Planning Committee to refuse an application for 650 houses outside Edenthorpe against the recommendation of the Council planners.

The application was submitted last year for the scheme between Mere Lane and Hatfield Lane, to the east of Edenthorpe. The road access to the site is from West Moor Link and the development will only be connected to Edenthorpe village by a footpath, yet Council staff have suggested the scheme would be a sustainable extension of the village.

This is not an allocated housing site: it's in a stretch of countryside that is crucial to preventing Edenthorpe and Armthorpe from merging together. Despite revised footpath proposals, it's a single road-access site that is virtually cut off from Edenthorpe. To build 650 homes that are so detached from the existing neighbourhoods and with no facilities of their own can't possibly be said to be sustainable development.

The Doncaster Council planner's recommends that the developer subsidise a frequent bus service to the site, but this would have to do a significant detour to access the site and it would take a long time to get to the town centre; so it is unlikely to be well-used and so it will not help to reduce car usage. Also, only 10% of homes are set to be affordable, much less than Doncaster's own policy target of 26%.

Any greenfield development of this scale must be properly planned for through the Local Plan and it must be fully connected to the community it is extending. This is just a huge, isolated, speculative housing estate. Also, creating a large urban extension site without meeting the affordable homes target would be a catastrophic failure to meet people's housing needs. Doncaster Council really must refuse this application: the people of Edenthorpe deserve better than this.

Note: Planning application 15/01278 will be the subject of a technical meeting, open to the public and press, at Doncaster Council on Friday 11th November at 1pm. It is due to be considered by the Planning Committee on Tuesday 15th November.




2nd Nov 2016 1million+ homes possible on brownfield land

New figures show big increase in brownfield sites available for housing

New research published today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that suitable brownfield sites across England can provide at least 1.1 million new homes.

Yorkshire and Humber: This region has one of the highest estimated housing capacities on brownfield sites with over 53,000 homes. This is likely a result of three of the four authorities included in the analysis being chosen to participate in the study for having a high amount of brownfield. There was an increase of over 80% in the identified housing capacity in the region, providing a land supply of over 7 years at the current housing requirement.

The Government had described a previous CPRE estimate of around 1 million homes as ‘wildly over optimistic’. Now, using the Government’s own pilot brownfield register scheme, CPRE has calculated that suitable brownfield sites can provide between 1.1 and 1.4 million new homes.

CPRE studied the findings of 53 councils that have published their data on suitable sites, and found that these areas alone could provide 273,000 homes. Comparing this new data with the last available data from 2010-2012, CPRE noted an 11% increase in the number of homes that could be provided on suitable sites, with planning permissions for such sites increasing by 21% and the number of suitable sites being identified by 50%.

Applying the same 11% increase to the 2010-2012 figures for the whole country gives a new estimated minimum capacity of 1.1 million homes on suitable brownfield sites.

It is also worth noting that the study of the 53 pilot registers produced a figure – 273,000 – that is both higher than previous Government estimates of countrywide brownfield housing capacity, and almost enough for the participating councils to meet their five-year housing targets without releasing any countryside for development.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “We need to build good, affordable homes quickly in the right places. No one is suggesting that we will be able to provide all the homes we need without ever building on a greenfield site. But the Government needs to do much more to reconcile its commitment both to build a million homes and to protect the countryside, including the Green Belt it recently described as ‘sacrosanct’.

“These official figures show that there is plenty of suitable brownfield land available, and that the supply of brownfield land continues to grow. The Government and local authorities must now ensure that developers use it. This will not only save countryside, it will help ensure thriving towns and cities.”

The Government created the brownfield registers pilot last year in order to secure a consistent set of data on brownfield sites suitable for development. The registers enable the Government to monitor its commitment that 90% of all brownfield sites have planning permission by 2020, and deliver 200,000 new homes on those sites. CPRE’s research suggests that this ambition for new homes should be much higher.

CPRE is calling for national policies that ensure brownfield development is prioritised over greenfield development and support the provision of new homes on suitable brownfield sites. These include brownfield registers across the country, and an instruction for councils to refuse permission for greenfield sites where they would compete with the development of nearby brownfield land. Recent CPRE research showed that on average brownfield sites are developed half a year faster than greenfield while previous research demonstrated that brownfield is a renewable resource.



6th Oct 2016 New design guide to help solar panels shine

For the first time, a simple national guide helps property owners install attractive solar panels - Get them right, and they can be an attractive part of your home and lower your electricity bills.

The new guide and summary leaflet on solar design, published by CPRE and BRE National Solar Centre, show how solar panels on buildings can look good whatever the structure or surrounding landscape.

Among the various design principles, CPRE advocates the use of panels that match the size and shape of existing roof tiles. Other suggestions include installing panels symmetrically or ensuring that panels fully cover the roof. Aimed at property owners, designers and installers, the guide and leaflet also illustrate how the sun is already helping to power an incredible range of the nation’s buildings – from homes and listed churches to greenhouses and office blocks.

With millions of viewers tuning in to programmes such as Grand Designs each week, there is a clear appetite for innovative design, and 800,000 home solar panel systems have already been installed in the UK.

New technologies are reducing the cost of solar panels, despite Government cuts to solar subsidies. The publication of the guide has therefore come at a very useful time to showcase solar developments that protect the countryside. The guide is being promoted at the Clean Energy Live event in Birmingham on 4 October.

Kim Hagen, senior energy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments: “Whether you’re installing solar on a historic country house or a simple garden shed, it’s no longer difficult to make your building look great. It can be as simple as positioning the panels to reflect the structure of your roof. Or you might want to consider using technologies to generate electricity from glass in windows.

Combining simple principles with inspiring case studies, this guide shows how solar can fit in well with our towns, villages and countryside while helping provide some of the energy we need.”

Chris Coonick, senior consultant at BRE National Solar Centre, says: “Over the last six years in the U.K. solar PV systems have become a more common sight on homes and buildings.

With innovations in solar panel design and methods of integration there are more options available for improving the aesthetics of solar PV installations in the built environment. This guide highlights the fundamental considerations for good visual design.”

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, comments: "CPRE's solar design guidance will help home owners understand both the wide range of solar products on offer today and how they can work with installers to ensure solar is a truly attractive addition to their home, whatever their budget and wherever they live.

Given the great range of products on offer today and some fabulous examples of best practice there is no excuse for solar roofs which are anything less than stunning. The guide supports our own work to continually raise standards across the industry.”

24th Aug 2016 @ 20:00 Bella Hardy’s Nashville Warm Up Show

Special one-off show

Edale-born Bella has had a breathless year so far, with the release of her seventh solo album "With The Dawn" to great critical acclaim. Her extensive touring has included opening appearances for Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin Carpenter, and a season as the British Council’s Musician in Residence in China. And this September she is heading to Nashville for a month of songwriting with some of America’s finest musicians.

This show is the only chance to hear Bella’s stripped back performance with guitarist Iain Thomson before she sets off on her US adventure. She’ll be debuting brand new songs and revisiting favourites from her impressive back catalogue, ready for her first ever Nashville showcase at the end of her trip. 

Doors open at 7.30pm, 8pm start.  £10 (concessions £8)  
Tickets from


Bella Hardy, BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year 2014, is pleased to be be coordinating this show with the Friends of The Peak District.  There will be a raffle, with funds split between the Friends and High Peak Community Arts, for whom Bella is also Ambassador.  

Why not travel by train? 

The Hope Valley line service from Sheffield arrives to Bamford station at 7:35pm, the Manchester train arrives at 7:42pm.  St John’s Church is a 12 minute walk from the station.

St John the Baptist Church, Bamford

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