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New housing plans welcome ... but

[Monday 15 November 2010]

Government plans to reward local communities which allow new housing to be built in their district have been welcomed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England – so long as the houses are properly built.

Says CPRE planning head Fiona Howie: "There is an urgent need for more housing, especially affordable housing, in many rural areas so we are pleased that the Government is considering how best to tackle this issue.

“Providing appropriate incentives is part of the solution but there are risks if they are poorly conceived. The incentives should encourage local authorities to prioritise location, design and affordability of new housing, rather than placing an emphasis on numbers for their own sake.

"For many councils with budget black holes following the spending review, the New Homes Bonus is likely to be a temptation that is hard to resist. It's important therefore that developers aren't able to take advantage of cash-strapped councils, by proposing development that we live to regret.

“The reuse of brownfield land and protection of green fields is vital. We are pleased that the Government has taken an important first step to recognising this, by pledging to reward refurbishment of empty homes."

The new Government proposals will be causing some head scratching in rural areas like the western Yorkshire Dales, where there is a virtual apartheid in planning issues between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the area outside the park controlled by Craven District Council.

For at least two decades, it has been almost impossible to build low cost housing in the national park, largely due to protests from often wealthy newcomers and retirees, but the Craven area outside the park has been swamped with new-build under pressure from the last Government.

The result, according to many observers and some members of the national park authority, is that the park is in danger of becoming a virtual “museum” of elderly but well to do residents with young folk and important local tradesmen being forced out of their villages.

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