CPRE responds to Nick Boles.
Last week saw Nick Boles, the government Minister for Planning, making several media appearances in which he argued for house building to be increased and where necessary to also increase building on additional green field land. His appearances also drew much attention in the media as he described much new house building as ‘pig ugly’.
On Sunday Sir Andrew Motion in his role as Chairman of the Council for the Protection of the English Countryside commented on the position outlined by the Tory Minister for Planning last Wednesday and reported widely in the media:
His response to the Boles statement he describes as ‘somewhere between horror and enormous anger’.
Quotations from Sir Andrew Motion: Chairman of CPRE and former Poet Laureate ( Source The Observer 02.12.2012 )
‘Nick Boles has clearly spent a lot of his life in thinktanks. And he has the kind of attitude you imagine went down quite well in a thinktank. Slightly abrasive, irksome, ruffling feathers. But to talk so blithely about these issues where so many people’s lives and so much of our land is at stake is just incredibly irresponsible.’
‘On just about every level what he said was wrong. Start at the level of fact: he said 9% of our countryside is bricked over; by CPRE reckoning it is actually already more like 12%. And that doesn’t take into account the collateral effects of development. About 50% of our land is already compromised in some way or another.’
‘….the underlying problem is this idea that in a difficult economic time you can just lighten the burden of planning regulation as a kind of short-term fix. That is not how it works. Once you develop a piece of land it is gone forever as countryside. Clearly there are issues around housing, but clearly also not enough is being done to develop brownfield sites.
And we know what will happen if this goes through: builders will slap up new estates in the most desirable places; they will snap up prime land in addition to the vast tracts of undeveloped land they own already. As we know the real reason why no one is building or buying houses is that mortgages are so hard to come by.’
He describes the countryside as ‘the great national masterpiece’ which organisations like CPRE are seeking to preserve in the interests of everyone and he talks about the ways in which such organisations are trying to increase access to the countryside especially for urban kids (He lives in Kentish Town in London).