[Drafted before Kwarteng was sacked but “investment zones” still firmly on the Truss agenda.]
Kwasi Kwarteng, the new chancellor, has announced plans which strip away the protection of the planning system from swathes of the countryside. These new ‘investment zones’ will threaten many of our most loved landscapes.
Planned ‘investment zones’ are a huge threat to our countryside and landscapes
Responding to the announcement Tom Fyans, Interim CEO of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
‘This government’s obsession with driving growth at all costs is alarming and will not end well for the countryside or our rural communities. Investment zones are deregulation on steroids. Successive governments have already severely weakened planning controls and the outcome has been a decade of disastrous design. CPRE’s own research in 2020 revealed that 75% of all new homes were mediocre or poor quality.
‘There’s a massive shortage of genuinely affordable homes in England. If the government wants to help increase development, then it must be the sorts of homes that people actually need. These new zones will be a failure if they simply allow house builders to build more large and expensive properties rather than the homes local people need.
‘This government is presenting a false choice between being green and boosting economic growth’
‘By weakening the Habitats Directive, the government is kicking away the key foundation of its own 30 by 30 pledge and it will critically undermine any meaningful attempt to tackle the nature emergency.
‘This government is presenting a false choice between being green and boosting economic growth. The Chancellor needs to invest in the energy efficiency of our homes – the best possible way to tackle the dual energy and cost of living crisis while kickstarting the economy is to retrofit our leaky homes.’
Time to act: what CPRE is doing
If these plans go ahead, developers will be given free rein to industrialise our countryside, changing the face of rural England for generations to come. We cannot allow the wildlife and landscapes that make our country so special to be robbed from us, our children or our grandchildren. We need to act fast to force the government to change direction.
CPRE and its supporters have defeated plans like this before. But this time the challenge is even greater: our environment is already suffering and we have never faced a government so reckless to the needs of nature.
‘The chancellor’s plan to use deregulation to hand power to developers is the exact opposite of what the countryside needs’
If ministers want to see booming high streets and more money in people’s pockets, we need to see investment in genuinely affordable homes and thriving communities, not trying to bypass the democratic planning system so that developers can cut down our woods and pour concrete over our fields.
Can you help?
We will throw everything we can at this campaign and ensure that as many MPs as possible hear the message loud and clear: industrialising the countryside is no answer to the challenges we face.