Nick Boles, the planning minister, is said to have declared that “building more homes would create more human happiness than fields full of crops” — Melissa Kite comments: “as if fields of crops were completely useless, and not the very food we eat”.
The changes recently made in planning laws are seen as a ‘disaster for the countryside’ by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which appears to object to such building largely on aesthetic grounds, but rightly points out that wherever possible, it is generally better to use already developed urban land and buildings than to build on green fields. They say:
“England currently has an estimated 63,000 hectares of previously developed land available for development, nearly half of it suitable for housing. Even at a relatively low density, this is enough for more than a million homes. Around 700,000 homes are currently empty; many more buildings are under-used.
“It usually takes less energy and fewer resources to refurbish existing buildings than to build new ones. As land and buildings are continually falling out of use, brownfield sites provide a renewable resource. CPRE believes we need to tap this potential . . .”
Land as ‘a lucrative investment for hedge funds and greedy speculators’
A dairy farmer who wrote to this site had been listening to a chap from Savills (estate agents) on BBC R4 today programme discussing land as opportunity for those seeking investment growth:
”He said the opportunity was in capital value of the land, not the output and there was little relation between what could be earned from the value of the land and what could be earned from production.
”My view is that ordinary farmers who need the land to produce food to feed our population and support diverse sustainable employment opportunities for the next generation within rural communities must not be outnumbered by hedge funds and greedy speculators who buy and sell to suit their portfolios and don’t really care what happens to the land or the rural economy as long as they can protect and increase their own investment.