THE Council for the Protection of Rural England has today issued a pre-emptive strike against the Government to prevent huge swathes of the countryside being buried under urban sprawl.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is about to announce his findings on attempts to prevent planners giving permission for new housing estates with large gardens and driveways, which eat up huge areas of land.
But he is widely believed to be about to impose such restrictions only on London and the South East, allowing urban sprawl to continue more or less unabated in the rest of the country.
To combat this, the CPRE has issued what is calls "a practical anti-sprawl guide" to help local communities oppose low density housing schemes which waste land on both green- and brown-field sites.
"The latest Government figures show developers are still getting away with land-wasting housing estates way below the densities which the Government itself is calling for," says CPRE assistant director Neil Sinden.
Mr Prescott is expected to overrule planners who give permission for estates with less than 30 homes per hectare - but is feared to be targeting only the South East. Yet the recent average in Yorkshire is 22 per hectare.
"What has the rest of the country done to deserve continuing urban sprawl?" asks Neil Sinden.
The CPRE briefing brochure, Design and Density, is free from CPRE publications (020 781 28000) or can be downloaded from www.cpre.org.uk