Rural West at risk from building boom

TOP STORY in Today’s Western Morning News:  The Westcountry stands to lose hundreds of acres of countryside under concrete if proposed Government changes to the way housing need is calculated go ahead, a rural pressure group warns today, reports Philip Bowern.

Countryside groups in Devon and Cornwall are demanding changes to the Government’s proposed shake-up of planning laws, warning it will lead to the concreting over of large parts of the region’s rural acres.

The CPRE countryside charity branches in both counties are joining forces to protest at the shake-up, which is part of the Prime Minister’s plan to re-build Britain after coronavirus and solve the housing crisis.

Cornwall CPRE chair Richard Stubbs has already warned a one-size-fits all policy leaves the county open to a developers’ free-for-all.

Now research from neighbouring Devon CPRE shows that the algorithm devised by ministers to replace local input into setting levels of housing need will see a 60% increase in the number of properties built in the Devon countryside.

Some of the most beautiful landscapes, in the South Hams, Teignbridge, North Devon, Mid-Devon and East Devon would be hardest it, the CPRE’s director in Devon Penny Mills warns.

She said: “To deliver the type of homes we need at the pace we need them, the government should abandon centralised housing targets and ensure planning remains locally led, with local authorities and communities empowered to have a say in what gets built where.”

Conservative MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May and her former deputy, Damian Green – both now on the back benches – have also warned against the policy change.

Mrs May told a House of Commons debate it would fail to deliver the homes needed.