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Homes and countryside for all

5th January 2021

CPRE Northumberland believes that a healthy, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live. Our approach to housing policy embodies this belief. Good planning should provide everyone with a decent home they can afford, and meeting the particular needs of rural communities is important if they are to thrive.

In the context of a growing and aging population in Northumberland we accept that it is important to meet the demand for new housing. We believe it can be done while avoiding the kind of sporadic and unsustainable development throughout the county that leads to urban sprawl and villages losing social cohesion as their young people leave and the balance of village life changes.

The image above is of new housing built on the western edge of Ashington, on a brownfield site left by the closure of the town’s coalmine. It looks out over a field where this image was taken, showing a perfect juxtaposition of homes and countryside which all can enjoy.

However, throughout the county, residents are finding that planning applications are being made that threaten rather than enhance the quality of community life in our towns and villages. It is vital that the house-building provision in the Northumberland Local Plan should be based on sound principles of open, democratic planning, so that the changes it will bring to our county over the next 16 years are beneficial to the lives of all Northumbrians.

Some key points of our policy

  • The amount, type and location of new housing should be agreed through plans developed with public support and phased to ensure, wherever possible, that brownfield sites are developed before greenfield land is used.
  • New building should be compact and sited to avoid sprawl.
  • Needs should be assessed using realistic evidence, and based on recent demographic and economic forecasts. Market forces alone are not enough to ensure this.
  • In rural areas especially, adequate provision should be made for appropriately-priced homes and smaller, easily-managed bungalows to help maintain thriving, balanced communities. Priority in allocating appropriate housing should go to those with strong employment or family ties to the area.
  • Essentials, not extras: All new building should be of high quality, efficiently designed, and fitted sympathetically into its surroundings.
  • Plans should show clear respect for environmental objectives, protecting valued landscape features and wildlife habitats and avoiding flood-risk areas.
  • Protecting community life: All new sites should be adequately linked by footpaths to town/village centres (or other local services) and accessible to public transport facilities.

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The legacy of Ethel’s vision and determination lives on thanks to the continued efforts of the Friends of the Peak District, and she remains an inspiration to everyone within CPRE