Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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CPRE Bath and North East Somerset Hustings event

Thursday, 12 February 2015 12:42

The CPRE District group invited representatives from all the five main parties to speak at this event in central Bath. Questions were prepared in advance, and reflected the topics of most importance to CPRE locally. The event was chaired by Cate le Grice Mack, CPRE Avonside volunteer and executive committee member.

Questions included: making use of brownfield sites before greenfield ones; providing affordable housing; whether a ‘Community Right of Appeal’ was supported; localism in planning decisions; retaining good quality agricultural land for farming; and preventing ‘Land Banking’ by developers.  Additional audience questions to individual candidates included the issue of the apparent challenge to the Core Strategy via a developer’s appeals; action to prevent flooding; what the definition of Affordable Housing was, or should be; and why Green Belt land at Odd Down and other places had been surrendered for housing in the Core Strategy.

It is difficult to summarise the lengthy meeting and members are advised to read the relevant party Manifestos and leaflets when there are available.  However it was clear that there were a number of areas where candidates agreed on some of the above issues, sometimes in apparent contradiction of their own parties’ policies.  Areas of debate included revising the National Planning Policy Framework to give greater priority  to brownfield sites; taking greater account of local views in housing decisions; preserving agricultural land for farming; and allowing a community right of appeal over Council planning decisions to match that already available to developers.

The event was very interesting and a great success. It demonstrated to the PPCs how seriously CPRE members take the protection of local countryside. We hope that this will be fed back to their respective party headquarters.  It was also a useful opportunity to publicise the recently issued CPRE Manifesto for the 2015 General Election [see www.cpre.org.uk/manifesto.  CPRE Avonside’s Director was asked to speak about the event at CPRE’s National Conference in Birmingham, and it is being repeated by other branches as the election approaches.

Vic Adie, Chairman of the Bath and North East Somerset Branch of the CPRE said,

“I am delighted that these candidates were able to give up their time to give their views on these important matters, and that so many members of CPRE and other organisations were able to attend.  It was heartening that there were many similarities between the views of the candidates, particularly concerning the need for the concerns of local people to be taken more seriously when considering where housing is built.  We also heard a number of interesting ideas from the candidates on how other threats to the countryside could be tackled whilst still ensuring the provision of adequate housing for local people.”

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