Tens of thousands of new homes have been built on green fields despite ferocious local opposition because of controversial planning reforms.
The contentious measures, which threaten to change the face of rural England forever, have proved ‘catastrophic for the countryside’, says a damning new report.
Planning permission had been given for a staggering 27,000 houses on greenfield sites against the wishes of local authorities in the last two years alone, it found.
Tens of thousands of new homes have been built on green fields despite ferocious local opposition due to controversial planning reforms
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which compiled the dossier, said developer were getting the go-ahead to build properties on profitable countryside ‘through the back door’.
Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced by the Coalition in March 2012, council chiefs were instructed to ‘significantly boost housing supply’ in a bid to tackle the property crisis gripping the UK.
Local authorities were ordered to identify a five-year supply of land to meet demand for new properties in their area.
Huge competition for homes that do come on the market has created a housing bubble in London and the south-east, inflating prices and locking hard-working families out of the property market.
The campaign group said that of 309 planning applications for developments of 10 or more properties on greenfield land which were rejected by councillors, 72 per cent were overturned on appeal by planning inspectors.
In one case, an appeal for a 154-house development in Calne, Wiltshire, which had been vigorously opposed by local people, was approved against their wishes because inspectors said the need for new homes outweighed the environmental benefits of the countryside.
A UK farmer’s opinion on building on greenfield sites
Planning permission had been given for a staggering 27,000 houses on greenfield sites against the wishes of local authorities in the last two years alone
The CPRE demanded a shake-up of the reforms claiming there were problems with how the targets for housing were set, including a lack of guidance for councils and a system which overstates demand.
The group called for changes to the planning policy to prevent developers bypassing local democracy to get the go-ahead for building in the countryside, and to ensure brownfield land is favoured over greenfield sites.
John Rowley, planning officer at the CPRE, said: ‘These figures show that current policy is encouraging unnecessary house building in the countryside against the wishes of local people. The consequences are proving catastrophic for the countryside.
‘We need to see a more transparent and less punitive system which does not allow unrealistic housing targets to override local concerns.
‘The Government should remove the automatic presumption for development where there is no five-year land supply.
‘Councils must be provided with detailed guidance on housing targets, and brownfield land must be prioritised so that unnecessary greenfield development is not so blatantly and regularly allowed through the back door.’
27,000 units sounds a lot,even over two years but we are short of over 180,000 units a year. If the NPPF alone was to deliver the shortfall in housing it would be permitting 7or 8 times this number. The fact that the housebuilding industry does not have this capacity is the real failure of teh developer led planning system.