Independent research into housing development

Today sees the publication of an independent review by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) of housing development in England’s AONBs. 

The Review by Dave Dixon, Neil Sinden and Tim Crabtree is based on data collected by Glenigan covering planning applications and approvals for major housing development (over 10 housing units) in and near to AONBs between 2012-2017, including the Cotswolds.

National policy for AONBs centres on the need to conserve and enhance natural beauty, particularly in the execution of planning functions by public bodies. However, the Cotswolds AONB is facing unprecedented pressure from housing development.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board sets out a vision for future management of the AONB in a five year Management Plan with clear objectives and policies, which guides the Board in exercising its responsibilities. There is a strong emphasis on partnership working and the need for public bodies to fulfil their commitment to work towards helping to conserve and enhance the AONB.

The Board has a number of position statements that amplify the AONB’s Management Plan policies and provide detailed guidance on land management. The position statements are for use by local authorities, government agencies, land agents, advisers, land managers, farmers and the public.

“This joint study is welcome support to the Board’s own concerns about development pressures within and adjacent to the Cotswolds AONB. The Cotswolds is a living and working landscape.  The report highlights the significant pressures it is facing, seeing the highest number of major housing schemes and second largest increase in the number of new housing units completed across the country’s AONBs for the study period, many of these as a result of speculative planning applications.

Securing the appropriate scale, location and design of growth and development within one of the country’s most special and iconic landscapes is an ongoing responsibility for the areas 15 local authorities and Conservation Board” said Liz Eyre, Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

“AONBs are outstanding landscapes of national value and significance.  In its forthcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework, CPRE looks to the government to state a presumption against large scale housing development in AONBs.

Demand for housing or the lack of a five year housing land supply should not justify inappropriate development in our finest landscapes” said Richard Lloyd, Vice-Chairman of CPRE Gloucestershire Branch

“This shows the importance of taking into account the cumulative impact of development.  The Cotswolds is one of our most precious landscapes and we must avoid it being undermined in dribs and drabs.  The report will be of particular interest in West Oxfordshire where there are a number of applications for development in the AONB due to be decided in the next month” said Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire Branch.

The review can be downloaded here

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