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  6. New strategy urged for England’s uplands

New strategy urged for England’s uplands

England’s uplands need a new integrated and comprehensive strategy with an individual responsible for developing and implementing it, the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has urged.

That call is the central recommendation from the CRC following its review of the future of England’s uplands, three-quarters of which are designated as National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A more focused planning regime is a key requirement, according to the review.

Around 2 million people live in the English uplands and the review highlighted the urgent need to increase the supply of affordable housing and improve access to next generation broadband and mobile communications.

The commission said Communities and Local Government should give clearer guidance to local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate over the importance of affordable housing and homes for ‘live-work’.

The CRC called for a greater role for communities in approving small schemes of affordable housing without formal planning consent where this need is established in parish plans.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "The new Government will make changes to enable rural communities to decide what kind of development is suitable for their area, in part to allow rural firms to thrive. New Local Housing Trusts will make it much easier for villages to grant themselves planning permission for new homes, shops or businesses in their area in order to meet local need. We're determined to ensure that neither people nor enterprise are priced out of the countryside and we will make sure that locals people make these important decisions."

The commission also said public bodies like the Ministry of Defence, Forestry Commission and the National Parks themselves should make more sites available for affordable homes.

The CRC also argued that Government should enhance the role of the National Park Authorities by “increasing their statutory responsibilities to give equal priority and status to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities alongside the existing statutory purposes”.

The report has been given a general welcome by countryside organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Council for National Parks and the Country Land & Business Association.

Access the Commission for Rural Communities’ report, High ground, high potential – a future for England’s upland communities.


Roger Milne

17 June 2010