THE COUNTRYSIDE AND PLANNING
If elected, I would support:
- Building the homes we need whilst protecting our countryside
- Reform of planning at all stages to build in highest environmental standards
- Incentivising farmers to protect our land
- The planning system has not served our area well. We need more homes but they need to be in the right place, at prices and rents people can afford and near to good transport links. Our countryside is not only important for biodiversity but is important for maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.
- We need genuinely affordable homes to rent or buy at prices people can afford. There have been a number of schemes which help people to buy homes but there are dangers of inflating market prices. The priority for the new government must be to get homes built for buyers, renters and do those who need social housing.
- When we build on our countryside it is gone forever and we must increase and speed up the use of brownfield sites. Help with funding for remediation from government should be made readily and quickly available so that brownfield building is as attractive as to developers as building on green fields. We should redevelop single tier parking as a priority to release housing land.
- Farmers and land managers are the stewards and custodians of our countryside and we need to incentivise them to look after it for on our behalf. Opportunities for children bought up in towns to learn more about the countryside have expanded and I would like to see more done to accelerate these programmes. All children wherever they come from should get the same opportunities to learn about the countryside, growing food and farming.
- We should encourage more social prescribing from GPs. Using the countryside to treat mental health conditions and help children and adults with special needs, must gain much wider use. It is not only often more effective than treating people with drugs it is also cost effective.
- Although there have been successive reviews of the planning system local councils still don’t have sufficient powers to respond to local needs. The Housing Delivery Test penalises councils if homes are not built by developers even though planning permission has been granted. On brownfield sites this means that valuable sites, not in the green belt, are left lying empty, sometimes for years. Local councils need to have more powers to make sure we use brownfield sites are used for housing.