Campaigners’ fears for future of countryside

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Lancashire’s ‘Holy Grail’ of countryside is being harmed by planning reforms, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has warned.

The group claims that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – intended to simplify planning – has instead led to more housing built on greenfield land.

Particular concerns have been raised over the five year housing land supply rule (5YHLS rule). The CPRE claim developers are using the rule to argue that land with planning permission is not viable if it has not been built within two or three years of approval, allowing brownfield sites to be left empty.

A CPRE spokesman said: “The rate of urban sprawl across Lancashire is startling,

“ It is losing best grade farming assets and its wildlife is in danger.

“Some authorities are looking to release Green Belt land, previously considered a ‘holy grail’ of planning protection against urban sprawl.

“This is despite huge tracts of brownfield land being available to satisfy their 5YHLS.”

The group also said 15 of 25 local authorities in Lancashire do not have the protection of an up-to-date local plan, which ensures adequate infrastructure provision and sustainable development.

The spokesman continued: “Large greenfield sites are increasingly being allowed for housing development at appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, even when they are not identified for such use in any earlier or draft local plan and/or against the wishes of elected local planning committees and their planning officers.”