In order to protect our staff, and to follow the NHS guidance, the office of CPRE South Yorkshire & Friends of the Peak District in Victoria Hall, Sheffield is closed until further notice. All of the staff are home working and continuing to protect the valuable landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire. You can reach all of the staff via their usual email addresses.
We would urge all of our members, and all those who enjoy the landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire to adhere to the current advice from the Government and from the NHS with regards to staying safe and minimising the spread of the virus.
We will be using our website and social media feeds to keep in touch with all of you – please do follow us on the web, twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Many thanks for your support, do follow the official guidance, and please do take care!
12th Mar 2020 More government funding for new homes goes to London than the North and Midlands combined
CPRE analysis reveals...
- New analysis of government figures from CPRE, the countryside charity, shows the total spend on house building schemes in Greater London is more than the Midlands and the Northern Powerhouse combined.
- Spending per person on these schemes over the past three years has run at over three times the level in Greater London (£85 per person) than in both the Midlands Engine ‘super-region’ (£24 pp) and the Northern Powerhouse (£28 pp).
- CPRE is calling on the government to reform these house building schemes immediately and to use the upcoming Budget to invest a fairer share of funding in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
The government is investing three times more in new housing schemes in London and the South East as it is in the Midlands and in the Northern Powerhouse, according to new analysis from CPRE, the countryside charity. The schemes, which aim to promote and reward increased house building, are skewed towards London and the South East and directly contradict the government’s levelling up agenda.
Recent allocations from three Government funds – the New Homes Bonus, the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Home Building Fund - are at three times the level in Greater London compared to the Midlands Engine ‘super-region’ (the former East and West Midlands government office regions) and the Northern Powerhouse (the former Government office regions of the North East, North West and Yorkshire & the Humber). Total spend on these housing schemes in Greater London is also equal to both super-regions combined.
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
“This week the Chancellor is expected to outline his ‘big infrastructure’ Budget aimed at levelling up forgotten parts of the country. But the majority of investment to encourage and reward house building over the past three years has been spent in London and the South East. This is unacceptable as the housing crisis is not just affecting the South East but is holding back large parts of the country, including our rural communities across England.
“If the Chancellor is serious about levelling up the country, he must reverse this imbalance immediately and put left-behind communities at the heart of his Budget. It is these communities who desperately need well-designed new places which can be delivered with a fairer share of housing investment from central government.”
The New Homes Bonus – a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas – has shown some particularly stark contrasts since it was first launched in 2011, including:
- Central Bedfordshire (pop.280,000) got more than Manchester (pop.545,000)
- The London Borough of Barnet (392,140) got more than Liverpool (490,000)
- Cambridge (125,000) got more than Newcastle (292,000)
- Milton Keynes (267,000) got more than Sheffield (518,090)
- South Oxfordshire (140,000) got more than Stoke (255,000)
- Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire (population 130,000) got more than Hull (260,000)
To right this imbalance, CPRE is calling for the government programmes supporting housing growth, in particular the Housing Investment Fund and the New Homes Bonus, to be fundamentally reformed so that there is a more explicit focus on regenerating deprived areas. There is scope to build nearly four times more new homes on suitable brownfield land in the Northern Powerhouse, and at least an equal number of homes on suitable brownfield sites in the Midlands Engine.
To start ‘levelling up’ the government must start channelling a fairer share of central government funding to schemes in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine to develop and build on brownfield sites and contribute to urban regeneration by building well designed homes that people can afford.
For further information, please contact: Jonathan Jones, CPRE National Media Relations Lead, 020 7981 2819/ 078 3529 1907
Oxford Cambridge Growth Arc. Spending decisions have favoured the Oxford Cambridge Growth Arc which is getting substantially more per capita than either the Midlands or the North, and more in real terms than the Midlands.
Housing Design Audit: Recent University College London research, commissioned by CPRE, has found that the quality of design in new housing is significantly poorer in the northern regions and in the eastern part of the Midlands. The current approach is not only regionally imbalanced, it is overlooking brownfield potential and is causing unnecessary damage to our urban and rural landscapes. The full Housing Design Audit can be found here: https://bit.ly/2TnTWV1
CPRE: For more information on CPRE’s position go to our website to view our manifesto in full: https://www.cpre.org.uk/
This February, CPRE, the countryside charity, invites everyone to join in with Star Count 2020, a fun and easy way to enjoy the wonders of the universe. By simply counting the number of stars they can see in the Orion constellation between 21 and 28 February, those taking part will help map the best and worst places to see the awesome sight of a star-filled night sky.
Throughout history people have gazed up at the magical starry night sky in wonder, and used the cosmos to navigate. Looking at the stars we get a feeling of tranquillity rarely experienced in today’s frantic lives. Seeing dark skies full of stars is something we associate with the countryside, and part of reconnecting with the natural world. However, places to view these spellbinding sights are becoming harder to find, even in the countryside.
Last year’s Star Count results showed that light pollution, often caused by the glow and glare from street and outdoor household and sports lighting, is making beautiful starry skies a rare sight for many of us. Just 2% of people who took part in Star Count 2019 told us they were viewing a truly dark sky.
Emma Marrington, CPRE’s starry skies expert, said: ‘A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer, connecting people to such an important part of our natural heritage. But many people don’t get to experience this beauty due to light pollution. We want to get people out counting the stars and helping to save them now and for future generations to enjoy!’
As well as preventing us from seeing the stars and wonders of our Milky Way galaxy, the Northern Lights, and meteors (shooting stars), light pollution has serious impacts. It disrupts the natural behaviour of wildlife and can be harmful for our health. It’s also a waste of energy, at a time when many people are trying to live more sustainably.
Using the results from the annual Star Count, CPRE will lobby Government and local authorities to tackle light pollution, and also highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies.
CPRE’s Star Count is supported by the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS).
Expert astronomer Bob Mizon from the CfDS said: ‘As well as being a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the night sky, Star Count is starting to give us some really useful information. We’re hoping many more people will join in this year and give us the best map ever.’
To take part, star count-ers are asked to choose a clear night between Friday 21 and Friday 28 February. During this time the moon is less bright, making it easier to carry out a cosmic census, although CPRE will accept results from any nights in the second half of February. Without using a telescope of binoculars, people can then count the stars within the rectangle shape formed by Orion, except the four stars on the outer corners, then submit their results at cpre.org.uk/starcount
For further information contact: Jamie Wyver, CPRE Media Relations, 020 7981 2827 / JamieW@cpre.org.uk
The British Astronomical Association is Britain’s largest astronomical organisation, with thousands of members nation-wide. Its Campaign for Dark Skies was founded in 1989, and aims to ensure quality lighting in the UK. A well-lit environment below and a view of the starry sky above are not incompatible.
The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE and the Place Alliance.
A housing design audit for England reveals that 75% of new housing development should not have gone ahead due to ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’ design.
Download the full audit here.
The report, an audit of over 140 housing developments built across England since 2007, found that one in five of these developments should have been refused planning permission outright as their poor design was contrary to advice given in the National Planning Policy Framework. A further 54% should not have been granted permission without significant improvements to their design having been made first.
The audit also found that:
- Less affluent communities are ten times more likely to get worse design, even though better design is affordable;
- Low-scoring housing developments scored especially badly in terms of character and sense of place, with architecture that does not respond to the context in which it is located;
- The worst reported aspects of design include developments dominated by access roads and the poor integration of storage, bins and car parking, leading to unattractive and unfriendly environments with likely negative health and social implications;
- Some gains have been made - schemes scored relatively highly for safety and security and were also typically successful at integrating a variety of sizes of house.
Professor Matthew Carmona (The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL) Chair of the Place Alliance, who led the research, said: “Research has consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities and delivers huge social, economic and environmental value to all, yet we are still failing in this regard across England.
“Planning authorities are under pressure to deliver new homes and are therefore prioritising numbers in the short-term over the long-term negative impacts of bad design. At the same time, house builders have little incentive to improve when their designs continue to pass through the planning system. Some highways authorities, meanwhile, do not even recognise their role in creating a sense of place for communities.
“Collectively, house builders, planning authorities and highways authorities need to significantly raise their game. This can’t come soon enough”.
Tom Fyans, Campaigns and Policy Director at CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “The Government has presided over a decade of disastrous housing design and must raise standards immediately. This research is utterly damning of larger house builders and their failure to build the homes our communities deserve. They must significantly raise their game if we are to create the sorts of places that future generations will feel proud to call home. It’s no wonder so many of our communities feel apprehensive towards new development when the design is so poor. That’s why significantly improving the quality of design is central to addressing the housing shortage."
Recommendations from the research
The audit proposed a range of recommendations for the Government, house builders and local government. Amongst these the research found strong benefits in designing at higher densities than is the norm. The Government should be more prescriptive in seeking less sprawling densities, as more compact developments tend to be designed more sensitively. It should require highways design that helps to create high quality, characterful places.
Housebuilders need to drive greater ambition across the sector in order to advance a more ethical approach to the design of development that prioritises the long-term social wellbeing of their customers and the health of the environment at large.
Local authorities need to use proactive design codes – design parameters established for each site – and design review processes for all major housing schemes. Local authorities also need to end the current disconnect between highways design and planning aspirations when it comes to new housing areas.
Schemes which do not meet minimum requirements should be refused on design grounds and this should be supported, without question, by the Government regardless of progress towards meeting housing targets in the area.
You can view the geographically specific documents here.
The full report can be found here: bit.ly/PA-Research_HousingAudit2020
The 142 audited developments were broken down geographically as follows: South East, 21; Greater London, 20; East of England, 19; East Midlands, 19; South West, 16; North West, 14; Yorkshire and Humber, 12; North East, 11; West Midlands, 10.
The audited schemes were chosen because they reflect the typical volume housebuilder product. The average size of schemes audited was 382 units (dwellings) and the average site size was 11 hectares.
The research was funded by UCL through the Place Alliance, the CPRE and the Laidlaw Scholarship Programme. The authors acknowledge the support of the advisory group, supporting consultancies and network of volunteer auditors.
The advisory group was made up of individuals from CPRE, Home Builders Federation, UK Green Building Council, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, Civic Voice, ARUP, Design Council, Academy of Urbanism / URBED and Urban Design Group. The supporting consultancies were ARUP, JTP, Spawforths and URBED.
Matthew Carmona, Amer Alwarea, Valentina Giordano, Anastassia Gusseinova, Fola Olaleye, A Housing Audit for England, will be published on the UCL Place Alliance website on Tuesday 21st January 2020 at 00:01 UK time / 19:01 on Monday 20th January EST, and is under a strict embargo until then.
For more information or to speak to the researchers involved, please contact:
Mark Greaves, UCL Media Relations. E: email@example.com T: 020 3108 6995, M. Mobile: 07539 410 389
Jonathan Jones, Media Lead, CPRE, the countryside charity, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, T: 020 7981 2819, M: 07739 332796
CPRE calls for re-think of Loxley housing plans
Countryside campaigners in Sheffield are urging property developers to rethink plans to build an isolated and unsustainable village on green belt land that borders the Peak District National Park.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warns that the new settlement on the old Hepworths factory site in the heart of the Loxley valley could become an unsustainable enclave, pushing up the city’s carbon footprint as villagers travel elsewhere in their cars to meet their everyday needs.
Development company Patrick Properties have announced plans to build a “sustainable new community” of up to 350 houses on the long-abandoned factory site along the River Loxley, less than half a mile from Sheffield’s border with the national park.
They faced angry opposition from local residents when they unveiled their plans at a one-day public exhibition at Stannington Community Centre last week.
Patrick say their proposals are the only way of funding a clean-up of derelict refractory works that were abandoned by Hepworths in the early 1990s.
But the CPRE say they share residents’ concerns and are urging Patrick to scale down their plans, so that they are more in keeping with a sensitive green belt site, and less dependent on car journeys to reach local services like shops, schools and doctors’ surgeries.
“Patrick Properties asked for residents’ views; now we encourage them to listen to them and to heed their concerns,” said Andy Tickle, Head of Campaigns at CPRE South Yorkshire.
“This large new housing estate would fundamentally change the character of the Loxley valley, often for the worse” he said.
“Whilst the proposals could improve some aspects of the site itself, the wider impacts on local communities and the National Park have been either under-estimated or ignored.”
Dr Tickle said there were some welcome features to the draft scheme, including fast broadband workspace, extensive tree planting and enhanced rights of way alongside the River Loxley, but he feared many crucial issues would not be covered in the application.
“So far there is little commitment to ensuring the development is climate-friendly,” he said.
“We’re also concerned that the development will be very car dependent and few measures have been proposed to alleviate traffic impacts in the valley and beyond.”
The CPRE have been in dialogue with Patrick Properties and Sheffield City Council about the site for over a year and had agreed with the council that only an award-winning, visionary scheme would be good enough for this sensitive green belt location.
CPRE have stressed throughout that an outline planning application, where much of the final detail is omitted, is unacceptable.
“When we are facing a climate emergency with radical carbon cuts needed by 2030, this development must be very low carbon from the start,” said Dr Tickle. “The current proposals are seriously deficient in this respect and on many other key issues.”
The pre-application consultation will last until Wednesday January 8th – see www.newhomesinloxley.co.uk - after which Patrick Properties intend to submit an outline planning application to the City Council.
Council-owned county farms are in terminal decline, which means future generations of young farmers – and our communities more broadly - won’t benefit from these wonderful assets, according to a new report launched today by CPRE, the countryside charity.
County farms were set-up at the end of the 19th century to provide a way into farming for young farmers and have a huge potential to generate income, provide an opportunity to promote innovative farming methods and deliver environmentally sustainable farming to help tackle the climate emergency.
Their decline is significant with the area of county farms in England falling by over half from 426,000 acres to just under 209,000 acres since the late 1970s – as a result of privatisation, austerity and short-term thinking by governments and councils. More than 15,000 acres (7%) of council-owned farmland has been lost in the past decade alone; with 60% of this land sold off in the past two years. This alarming trend, warns the report, could continue unless new legislation that protects county farms for future generations is introduced.
However, the key findings from Reviving county farms, which is a report prepared for CPRE by the New Economics Foundation, Shared Assets and Who Owns England?, show that:
- More than 50% of county farm estates have disappeared over the past 40 years;
- More than 15,000 acres (7%) of this has been lost in the past decade alone;
- Almost 60% of county farm land sold since 2010 has been in the past two years;
- Austerity, coupled with a sense that county farms are ‘a thing of the past’, and an unwillingness by some councils to innovate to develop new income streams or business models, is driving the decline of county farms;
- Councils that have taken very different approaches, leading them to protect and even expand their county farm estates, have yielded positive results;
- County farms could play an important role in addressing the climate emergency and also deliver benefits to local communities, such as providing locally-grown food for nearby schools; and
- Seven out of nine councils that responded to the survey gave details of environmental and social benefits provided by their county farms, ranging from tree planting, to local education initiatives, to supporting new farmers.
Whitehall Farm’s innovative approach
Whitehall Farm is a 100 hectare farm owned by Cambridgeshire County Council and managed by Stephen Briggs on a 15-year tenancy, along with over 300 hectares of other land. Stephen has taken an innovative agroforestry arable crops approach to build the profitability, resilience and sustainability of the farm.
Stephen has interplanted arable crops with 4,500 apple trees that provide an income, protect soil and also growing crops from the risk of extreme weather as a result of the climate emergency. Wildlife and birds such as tree sparrows, reed buntings, yellowhammers, English partridge and owls are also flourishing in the natural habitat farmland.
Stephen and his wife Lynn have also opened Harvest Barn farm shop and café on their county farm site. The shop sells local and certified organic fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm as well as locally sourced lamb, beef and pork, cakes and biscuits, jams and preserves.
Stephen Briggs, Farmer, Whitehall Farm, said: "Thanks to the county farms system, I have been able to run my own farm and try an innovative and successful soils-based farming approach. The support I have received from my local county council has been invaluable. I’d like to see all local authorities encourage new entrants with fresh ideas and perspectives like myself to go into agriculture to keep this wonderful resource in the community as a vital asset. There are economic incentives for councils too as the rent from our county farm and its innovative diversifications goes straight back to the county council, helping fund front line services."
Graeme Willis, agriculture lead at CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “Whitehall Farm is a great example of a county farm having an economic, environmental and social impact. Our research shows that the number of county farms in England alarmingly continues to plummet, at a time when these wonderful assets should be protected, and invested in, to ensure they’re available for future generations.
“CPRE is calling on the new government to introduce legislation to stop the sale of county farms and to give them a new purpose. A package of measures and new funding to enable councils to enhance, invest in their estates and better promote them is urgently needed. CPRE wants to see county farms recognised locally and nationally for their potential to address the climate emergency and deliver wider public benefits to meet the needs of their communities.”
Kate Swade, report co-author, said: “The sell-off of the county farms estate is a national tragedy, squandering a public resource that is crucial to getting fresh blood into farming. Enough is enough: it's time the new government halted the sale of county farms and invested in them properly for the future.”
For further information contact Media Relations Lead, Faith Mall FaithM@cpre.org.uk or call 020 7981 2819
1. A copy of Reviving county farms can be downloaded here
2. New Model Farming https://www.cpre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/New_Model_Farming.pdf
With the climate emergency high on the general election agenda, a survey by CPRE, the countryside charity, has revealed that 96% of parents think it is important for children to experience green spaces first-hand and spend time in the natural world.
Findings reveal that political parties could harness ‘parent power’ to get them over the finishing line at the forthcoming general election by making it mandatory for every school child to visit the countryside, as part of the national curriculum.
The survey of 2,000 parents across England, carried out by OnePoll, and commissioned by CPRE, reveals that:
85% of parents in England think that every schoolchild should be able to experience the countryside first-hand as part of the national curriculum;
96% think it is important for children to spend time in the natural world, including the countryside (with 69% saying this is very important and 27% saying it is quite important)
The top five reasons cited by parents for why children should spend time in nature were:
- Boost physical health (74%)
- Learn more about nature and science (74%)
- Boost their mental health (70%)
- Experience the thrill of observing wildlife first-hand (65%)
- Understand why we should protect the countryside (64%)
Separate research by CPRE shows that 36% of England’s population live too far from the current network of 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs for these areas to be classified as easily accessible.
CPRE has included improved access to green spaces for everyone in their 12 recommendations for how the next government can harness the potential of the countryside to promote a healthier economy and happier communities.
Children’s author and co-founder of Farms for City Children Michael Morpurgo, and business woman and environmentalist Emma Bridgewater have added their voices to this call to action. They would like to see the next government make sure that everyone, including every schoolchild, has access to national parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).
Emma Bridgewater, President of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
“Younger people are leading the way in changing the way we treat our planet. Programmes like Blue Planet have done so much to raise awareness of the need to recycle and have succeeded in building awareness of the impact of climate change among children and young people.
But we all have a responsibility to continue to support children on their journey towards making our world truly sustainable. We have many amazing green spaces on our doorstep, which benefit everyone in so many ways – by improving their mental health, physical wellbeing through the ability to experience nature first-hand. What is needed is decisive action from the next government that will ensure all children can access these treasured areas and green landscapes.”
Crispin Truman, Chief Executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “The climate emergency is high on the political agenda and yet the recently-published political party manifestos suggest that policy makers have failed to recognise how experiencing nature directly links with the desire and will to combat the climate emergency. The research also shows that parents see the countryside as good for children’s health and well-being.
“CPRE therefore urges the next government to introduce measures to improve access to the countryside for all, including the 30 million who have the Green Belt on their doorstep, so our green spaces can be a focal point for experiencing, learning about and investing in our environment.”
- Overall, 60% of people said they would be more likely to vote for a political party that wants to protect and enhance the countryside, including the Green Belt, and just 1% say they would be less likely
- This percentage figure rises to 71% of people aged 25-34
- Almost two-thirds (63%) of 35-44 year olds and 57% of 45-54 year olds said policies relating to the countryside would affect their decision in the polling booth
“This research turns long-held assumptions on their heads with millennials and Londoners being most likely to vote with the countryside in mind. More and more young people are aware of the need to invest in their health and well-being, which is something that the countryside can deliver.The survey results show overwhelmingly that protecting and enhancing the countryside is an issue that resonates with people of all ages and in all regions. It shows that countryside issues could be one of the deciding factors in determining which political party forms the next government.CPRE therefore urges all political parties to put measures to protect and enhance our countryside front and centre of their manifestos to ensure that our treasured landscapes will be available for now and future generations to come.”