Posted by: westlancashirerecord | March 6, 2017

A Department Of Land?

A report in the Times suggests England needs a “department of land” to stop the countryside from being eroded by haphazard government policies decreed by four secretaries of state, town mayors and hundreds of local councils, which all have a say in how land is used, according to campaigners. A new department should strip council planners of their right to hold up home improvements such as loft conversions and kitchen extensions but strengthen their powers to protect prized assets such as national parks, public green spaces and listed buildings, they said.

Most importantly, it would provide a “coherent strategy for land use” that would hold greater sway with the Treasury, according to a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) cprenew. It would also encourage denser urban housing and protect the country’s green belts.

“Leaving land use to take its course with only the haphazard and poorly integrated interventions now in place will have an ever more damaging effect as our population grows and we cope with the multiple pressures of globalisation, technological change and climate change” Shaun Spiers, chief executive of CPRE, said shaun. The report, published yesterday, drew together ideas from 14 experts, including Lord Deben, the former Conservative environment secretary who created the Environment Agency and national park authorities.

“There’s no hope of sensible land use while planning is imprisoned within the Department for Communities and Local Government, agriculture in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, infrastructure in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and long-term transport planning in the Department for Transport” Lord Deben wrote. “We need a Department of Land Use, which would bring the strategic elements of all these together . . . and enable us to decide what kind of country we want to leave to our grandchildren”.

He added that cities and towns should be “intensified, not extended” to ensure that they remained vibrant. His views were echoed by the architect Sir Terry Farrell terry_farrell who designed the MI6 building in central London, who said that greater population density could increase public access to green space. “Densification is often negatively perceived as ‘concreting over’ our urban areas, but this is not borne out by reality. If done the right way, greater density can well mean more parks, gardens and other open spaces and improved public access to all of these”.

The CPRE claimed that 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of green fields were developed every year, and there were plans for 360,000 homes to be built on the nation’s 14 green belts.

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