Princess Anne has fallen for the false ‘spits and spots’ of rural housing argument the conservatives fell for before the last election.
New homes should be built in existing villages and market towns instead of as part of sprawling new developments of up to 15,000 plots, the Princess Royal has said.
She argued it would be better for existing rural communities to take the brunt of the 240,000 new homes needed each year.
Her comments will add fuel to the political debate over how to provide the number of homes needed without damaging the countryside.
Nick Clegg called recently for the Government to be “honest and upfront” about plans to build garden cities in the South East.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that planned cities were a better option than piecemeal developments.
But the Princess, speaking as patron of the English Rural Housing Trust, said: “Is it really necessary to only think in terms of large-scale developments where you might add 10,000 or 15,000 in a block, where you require infrastructure to be installed?”
She suggested it would be more efficient to build small scale developments in existing communities: “Maybe it isn’t such good value if you have to build in the facilities that need to go with it.
“You will need a new school, you will need new shops, you will need to create a community centre. But for many of the small-scale developments you already have that.”
In a speech at a housing conference in Cheltenham, she added: “240,000 houses sounds an awful lot until we identify the amount of villages and market towns there are.”
Ok over the next 15 years we need nationally to plan for 3.75 million new homes from household formation plus a 1 million home backlog (approximately of course), for sake of argument lets say around half of that is identified already in development plans and another 10% occurs through windfalls. If you divide that amongst England’s roughly 10,000 villages thats around 230 houses per village. Ive been doing similar calculations since the 2007 Housing Green Paper and warning that unless we have large scale growth areas it would mean the swamping of English Villages and warned thats exactly what we would see with the NPPF if, as as happened, it also cancelled Ecotowns and Growth areas – now ask yourselves is that just what we have seen? Have we not seen planning application for in total several hundred homes now swamping villages.
Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of CPRE, said: “These are welcome words from Princess Anne. We want a living countryside, not a countryside of commuter villages or retirement ghettoes.’
Bit I thought the CPRE were supposed to be protecting the countryside?