COUNTRYSIDE campaigners in Dorset have welcomed the Government’s plans to reform the housing market and boost supply of new homes.
The Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that at times it had feared that the Government’s Housing White Paper would herald a new assault on the countryside and yet another round of developer-driven planning changes.
However, Chairman Richard Nichols said: “Dorset CPRE is hugely heartened that the paper promises continued protection of the Green Belt, support for more brownfield development, and to address the failures of the housing market as opposed to further meddling with the planning system – all fundamental issues CPRE has relentlessly banged the campaign drum on. There are also proposals to discourage developers from dragging their heels once they have the land and permissions needed to build.”
But the organisation, while accepting there is a need for more affordable housing, says it does not accept the unduly high number, 73,000 houses currently required by central government to be built in Dorset. It believes that such a number amounts to at least 150,000 new residents and 100,000 more cars by 2033, as well as additional pressure of what it says is already an inadequate infrastructure, such as education and the NHS which is already struggling to fill vacancies.
“These staff shortages are largely caused by the high cost of property, now unaffordable for nurses and ancillary workers, arising from a lack of truly affordable housing available.
“If we are to protect the countryside and prevent urban sprawl, it is essential that housing targets are local, honest, realistic and deliverable. The outcome of this consultation represents the acid test of whether the Government is able to protect the countryside while meeting its aspiration for more house building.”
The group says that it will support groups who want to fight against proposals for their communities which are seen as unsupportable.