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Housing minister: executive homes built in the countryside are profitable but don’t keep villages alive

Alice Thomson reports that more than 1,300 villages have disappeared in the first decade of this century, according to figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics: “Their greens, meadows, churches, war memorials and pubs have been subsumed into towns and cities, their identities eroded”. This land was used predominantly for more concrete jungle of warehouses, car parks, offices and supermarkets.

saltaireShe reminds us that the Victorians campaigned to save their countryside, backed by artists, poets, architects, writers, businessmen like George Cadbury and Titus Salt (Saltaire, left).

By the 1920s twentytwo organisations were lobbying parliament over our landscape and together they formed what is now the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which championed green belts. Alice calls for us to devote as much of our imagination to preserving our villages and countryside as did those Victorian artists, poets, architects, writers and businessmen, commenting: “If organisations such as the CPRE hadn’t been set up and we had followed the relaxed planning laws of the US, London could now look like Los Angeles and would reach Brighton”.

Urban councils receive 40% more funding than those in rural areas, but seaside, market and country towns need to be rejuvenated, with more bus routes, better broadband and more sensitive, innovative building projects.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, councils must have a “local plan” limiting housing developments to land specifically allocated for it. But 40% of councils haven’t completed their plans, mostly because of legal objections from developers and, despite the increasing population, fewer houses were built in the last decade than in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. Ms Thomson and many others agree that urban housebuilding should predominantly once more be on brownfield sites. High streets and out-of-town shopping centres can be turned back into housing as we increasingly buy goods online.

One commentator added: “Villages need affordable rented housing, once called council housing, to give people a stable home life where children can go to the local school and use local services. Executive homes built in the countryside are very profitable but don’t enhance a stable community. Let’s build in villages and keep them alive. It used to be like that until council houses were sold off”.

Alice continues: After Brexit there is a chance to redefine our relationship with the countryside.

 

 

 

Mr Osborne: reconsider and meet people’s needs rather than those of the arms industry

Anti-austerity groups are planning to protest on the day George Osborne delivers further budget cuts in his Autumn Statement. CND will join the gathering outside Downing St to protest at ongoing spending on Trident and its replacement.

On 5th December George Osborne will provide an update on the Government’s plans for the economy.

Funding the Trident nuclear weapons system and its replacement comes at the cost of key services and facilities across the economy.

The Ministry of Defence estimates the replacement submarines will cost at least £25 billion and – taken together with the system’s lifetime costs – the total bill could be well over £100 billion.

CND suggests that money could be better spent:



There is a housing shortage in the UK, and the government has identified home building as an economic priority, nonetheless homelessness and overcrowding are getting worse.

£3bn a year – the amount currently spent on nuclear weapons – would pay for around 30,000 new houses every year, creating jobs for around 60,000 people in construction, manufacturing, services and retail.

 Deeside shows one way

PCU adds the reservation that instead of executive housing on greenfield sites the savings be spent on building affordable housing on brownfield sites.