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
New CPRE research shows a growing crisis of affordable housing in many rural areas.
Using Government data, the research indicates that the proportion of affordable homes being provided by non-metropolitan local authorities has halved in five years. In 2011-12, 35% of new dwellings were affordable; in 2015-16, this had decreased to just 16%.
CPRE’s research also shows that just five of the 15 most unaffordable districts outside London have met their affordable housing target.
As councils no longer receive direct funding for affordable housing, and, until recently, very few councils have been building homes, the main way affordable homes are currently provided is through conditions on developers being granted planning permission.
Recent research from the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) shows that councils are increasingly concerned about affordable housing and the effect that viability assessments have on providing it. In the TCPA’s study, over 60% of councils surveyed agreed that the viability test set out in the National Planning Policy Framework has hindered their ability to secure sufficient social and affordable housing to meet local needs.
Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at CPRE, said: “Many councils are falling woefully short of their targets to provide affordable homes. Yet you also have to look at those developers who continually use shady tactics to renege on promises to build affordable homes and new community infrastructure. These are often the promises that win them permission in the first place.
Developers have councils in a bind. It’s either fewer affordable homes or missed housing targets. And either way it’s young people and local people in need who lose out.
As just 8% of rural housing is affordable, much of the countryside is already out of reach to those on average incomes. If we don’t change things this will just get worse. The next Government must reduce the power of these viability studies, stop highly profitable developers gaming the system and give councils the hard cash to start building houses again.”
Visit the CPRE website for the full story.
Friends of the Peak District's Magnificent Walk in 2017 will start and finish at the Royal Oak Inn at Wetton.
The long 20-mile challenge walk will include the stunning Dovedale and Manifold Valley.
Two shorter, but equally beautiful walks will also be on offer.
Entry costs £12 per person. Under 16s FREE. £3 extra on the day.
All proceeds in aid of the Friends of the Peak District.
There's a public car park in Wetton with public toilets open 24 hours.
There will be tea and coffee available at the Royal Oak before you set off, and water to fill your bottles.
We'll provide route directions and maps. And we'll waymark the route where necessary.
For more info visit the Friends website
or email Julie@cprepeakandsyorks.org.uk
The Royal Oak Inn, Wetton. Click here for directions
Are you passionate about the countryside?
This is an exciting opportunity to lead a highly regarded local environmental charity, running the trustee board who provide governance and strategic direction for our work.
Friends of the Peak District and CPRE South Yorkshire work to protect and enhance the countryside of South Yorkshire and the Peak District. Our vision is of a living, working countryside, which changes with the times but remains beautiful forever.
You will need to understand the role of trustee boards and have the leadership and management skills, experience and commitment that will help us achieve our objectives.
- Covering letter
- Role description
- Equal opportunities monitoring form
- 2015 Annual Review
- Organisational structure
- Information about FPD and CPRE-SY
For an informal chat:
Contact Andy Tickle 0114 279 2655 (Mon-Thurs) or email@example.com
Closing date: Tuesday 30 May
This is an unpaid post but reasonable expenses are paid.
CPRE research finds Green Belt and AONB at risk from local authority growth ambitions as councils are failing to apply planning guidance that is designed to protect precious countryside.
Councils are expected by Government to establish and have a plan to meet an 'Objectively Assessed Need' (OAN) for housing in their area, which takes into account issues such as projected population growth and future employment opportunities. Yet planning rules also state that this number should take into account constraints such as protected countryside.
CPRE research today shows that, since 2012, 24 councils out of the 62 local authorities for which there is clear data have heeded national policy and established housing targets in approved local plans lower than their OAN, with the majority reducing their targets due to environmental or countryside constraints. These include Chichester, Lewes and Wealden. Chichester reduced its target by 23% and Lewes by 30%. Other local authorities, such as Brighton, Watford, Hastings and Crawley, have reduced their targets by 50% or more.
Other councils, however, have pursued the full OAN despite a high proportion of their land being protected countryside. In East Devon, the planning inspector accepted the local authority’s contention that OAN of 17,100 houses should be met in full because of high expected levels of job creation in the district. In Christchurch and East Dorset, where the local plan meets the objectively assessed need for 8,490 houses over 15 years in full, 84% of the area of the plan is covered by Green Belt, AONB and nature conservation land.
CPRE finds that this approach is continuing elsewhere. For example, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, part of which is covered by the Prime Minister's constituency, is pursuing their full OAN target of 14,000 houses over 20 years despite 84% of the land being Green Belt. In Mid Sussex, the planning inspector has been reported as forcing the council to accept a number even higher than their OAN of 876 houses per year to help Crawley meet their 'unmet need'. Mid Sussex has significant areas of precious countryside, particularly the High Weald AONB. Neighbouring authorities, particularly Wealden which has a similar proportion of protected land, have been able to reduce their housing targets. Campaigners and local MPs have long fought a consortium of developers who have argued for a still higher housing target.
CPRE's planning campaign manager Paul Miner comments: "Government planning rules state that councils should reduce their numbers if faced with significant constraints. A number of councils around the country have done just this. One has to ask, therefore, why the Government is allowing councils to ignore national guidance in places such as Maidenhead.
"We need to build more genuinely affordable homes. But current rules promote urban sprawl and cause the unnecessary loss of countryside. A more transparent and less damaging method of planning for housing is urgently needed."
Government ministers recently pledged to create a new method for councils to calculate their Objectively Assessed Need. The proposals were expected in early summer, but the General Election is believed to have delayed their release. CPRE is calling for a method that better reflects local need, protected countryside and current building rates.
CPRE's new research follows previous work by consultants Lichfields, who in 2016 found a further seven councils that reduced OAN due to constraints or adverse impacts. Added to CPRE's work, this would total more than 30 councils that have reduced their housing targets, most often on environmental grounds.
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.
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.
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.