AS PARLIAMENT returns this week, countryside campaigners are calling on MPs and peers around the country to back their housing campaign.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is worried that the Government's new housing policy will lead to a rash of developments on greenfield sites, thus encroaching upon areas of open countryside on the outskirts of towns and villages across the country.
CPRE call for brown-field first approach to new housing
The group is now calling on MPs to show their support by signing an Early Day Motion which calls for a brownfield first - greenfield last approach to any new housing developments.
The Government's proposed new planning policy on housing would give market forces a much stronger role, with demand for housing met where possible within the same 'market area' where it arises. CPRE is campaigning for changes to strengthen the final policy, expected this summer.
Kate Gordon, CPRE's planning officer, said:
"In the last four years we've seen major progress in regenerating our towns and cities. This proposed new policy risks undermining all that. Unless it is changed, it will damage the prospects for urban renewal and lead to increased greenfield sprawl - yet do little to tackle the need for more affordable housing.
"The Government has said it remains committed to a brownfield first approach. CPRE welcomes that. But its proposed new policy would make it harder to achieve in practice.
"It makes no sense to develop in the countryside and at the same time fail to tackle problems of urban decline and decay. We need to make much better use of the thousands of empty homes and swathes of derelict land and underused buildings that exist within our towns and cities."