On 7th February 2017, the Government published its long-awaited Housing White Paper. There have been many well-funded calls for yet more weakening of the planning system, in the mistaken belief that it is holding back the building of new homes. However, what we see in the Housing White Paper are promises to continue the protection of the Green Belt, support for more brownfield development, and the need address the failures of the housing market as opposed to further weakening of the planning system.
These are all issues CPRE believes are fundamental and ones we have tirelessly campaigned for. We want to thank you for your support, which has helped CPRE achieve better protection for our countryside, using good evidence and powerful, patient campaigning.
Less welcome news
It’s a great start, but we now have a new consultation to respond to about how we should calculate the need for new housing. We believe that housing targets must be deliverable in order for local councils to be able to protect the countryside and prevent sprawl. The results of this consultation will be crucial in deciding whether the Government is able to protect the countryside while meeting its aspirations for more house building. It is also vital that we prioritise houses for those in genuine need, those who cannot afford to buy into existing housing stock. House prices in Bristol are between 8-10 times higher than average wages. At the same time we regularly see the percentage of 'affordable' housing reduced as developers claim they make a development unviable. Only yesterday a Bristol MP expressed her concern about the lack of affordable housing at Bristol's famous Elizabeth Fry Chocolate Factory site in Easton.
We have three months until the deadline for the consultation, so next few months will be busy because we need to influence this debate. We will be collecting evidence and building on our arguments to constructing persuasive arguments. We also want to get our message to the widest possible audience. If you want to read more of our analysis and reactions to Housing White Paper click here.
What can you do?
This Housing White Paper presents a fantastic opportunity to secure a better future for the countryside around Bristol and Bath. We will continue to campaign, and meet with MPs, Ministers and Planning Officials locally to get our message across. We also want to influence the devolution process for the West of England, so we get the best deal for the countryside. There is the West of England Joint Structure Plan, and Joint Transport Plan in the pipeline, which we have been working hard to influence over the last few years. There are 105,000 new houses proposed so far over the next twenty years, as well as potentially new Park and Rides, new roads and bypasses - all of which could have a damaging impact on the quality of our local countryside and what makes our local area so special and loved.
We believe this area deserves the best transport solutions, as well as high quality, affordable housing in the most sustainable locations. Housing cannot be separated from the need for sustainable communities, within easy reach of facilities and work. Public transport is also essential for all ages and mobilities. Of course, effective campaigning doesn’t come cheap and the more funds we have, the more we can do. So please, if you can, do consider making a donation to support our vital work. We are so lucky to live in this amazing part of the world, and want the best outcome for our precious local countryside and our fantastic villages, towns and cities.
Thank you so much for your continued support and for standing up for our precious countryside.
With best wishes
Director, CPRE Avonside