Planning to Repopulate countryside

james armstrong james36armstrong at
Tue Feb 15 18:19:28 GMT 2011

Comments invited.

CONSULTATION  submission                                
15 Feb 2011


planning  experts who have managed the
train wreck which is Britain’s housing provision,  are now to 
guide  the future direction of planning
policy from the same eyrie in overcrowded London town. 

All these
experts  enjoying London weighting allowance, work in the
centre of  Europe’s 
largest metropolis, and  in the
city centric location within manic London which itself is centrally located
in the overpopulated and uniquely atypical south east of England.

It is will
not be surprising if their reworking of the Town and Country Planning and
Compulsory Purchase Act is more town than country focussed and omits to  exercise the compulsory purchase provisions
to end land hoarding by fellow city speculators. 

All the concerned
agencies have London city addresses, OFT in EC4, the
Barker Review at HM  Treasury SW1, the
Calcutt review in the City and RTPI at                 . Appropriately the consultation
is to be sent to SW1

There,  the well paid and well housed executives of the
DCLG  will sign off the
recommendations   all, to a man,
house-plutocrats.  Yet without radical change
of direction  housing will crash again
before the  wreck of the last misdirected
planning policy  is cleared away.    


I am
sitting on a stone beside the ancient Dorset track used centuries ago by
the  grieve of Sherborne abbey to haul
grain from the abbey’ s outlying grange farm  at Abbotsbury  via Winterbourne Abbas on the coast to be
stored in the cellars of the abbey at Sherborne some twenty  miles further to the north. 

>From this high point I can see a panorama of fifty
square  miles of countryside taking in to
the west the wireless masts  beside the
road to Blackmore vale, and to  the south
all the land   up to the Hardye’s
monument. (Another fifty square miles is out of vision behind me, obscured
by  woodland)   This encompasses about the same amount of
land as  one of the larger (not the very
largest) agricultural holdings in Britain. 

       Within sight there are four  more deer than there are humans.  Twenty two more deer to my knowledge  inhabit a nearby coppice . Not a human
habitation is in sight. 

No doubt
stimulated by such a heady view a question springs to mind.

many jobs could be created in this countryside 
if this was central

         to planning  policy? The reward of a million jobs bein g
created is so

         attractive that the research needs to
be done.  This would require 

        building some hundreds of thousands of
houses in the countryside.  

 No doubt what set this thought in motion was the complete
absence of human activity in the scene before me where there is one more great
spotted woodpecker in view than humans. 

On my walk
here from Dorchester, not six miles away, I passed
through a farmyard and got a cheery hello from the one individual  I saw working the land.   He was 
loading  silage from a stack in
the  yard 
and about to feed the cattle penned in 
the barn.   In view in the fifty
or so fields within vision in the  near
and middle distance , some of which cover complete hillsides, a total of one individual
is to be seen, a man  leaving his pick-up
which he has parked  adjacent to an
isolated barn. 


A recent
study   shows that labour-intensive small
scale  farming can be more productive
than the  highly mechanized highly subsidized
farming methods using minimum labour and maximum chemical inputs which has characterized
farming in UK for the last  sixty or so


I cannot
answer the question, but  the possible rewards
of  employing (and housing) one  million people in the countryside  surely suggest the need to do the research. 

This figure
seems quite reasonable.  Since World War
ll  the agricultural work force in UK has reduced by about this
number.  Little surprise then that

There are
some   extra one million people currently
unemployed, mostly in


Another  irreverent question  comes to mind.   How many houses could we build  in this currently deserted  countryside 
to reduce the assessed need  of
one thousand  people in the area of West
Dorset , meeting  a glaring social need ,
removing a blot on our human rights record of access to good   housing which is essential for family life
and for  home-making , repairing our
democratic deficit  while improving
the  countryside ?


Within a
stone’s throw of where I sit are the remains of an ancient settlement 

now the home
of foxes and rabbits and badgers. 
Below  in the valley bottom is a
stone building now used as a barn with 
some adjacent outbuildings. ‘The Bushes’ until 1914 was  the home of Mr Pacey the carter for Huish
farm  and his family. Five other families
were housed in this now deserted settlement.    Two miles north is the former  Saxon settlement on Mr Scott’s farm . A mile
further , another former ‘settlement’ is marked on the map and on the ground by
a few  ridges and  hollows. 
And a mile further north are the remains of yet another settlement.


surrounding the village of Cerne Abbas , four  miles away ARE   marked
on the map  three further
settlements.  In Britain since about 1800 the population has
moved from the countryside  into  towns so that to-day ninety  per cent of people are urban dwellers.   But this is 
a  modern phenomenon and may be a
temporary aberration  suitable only for
the short- lived industrial  age  which Britain 
has now left behind.  Is it time
to leave behind urbanization ?  Planners
should  make contingency plans now. 


Nearby at Pigeon
House, Corton Dairy, Poxwell farm….. 
rows  of former farm cottages  and isolated dairy cottages lie ivy covered
and in ruins. 


these  ancient former British and Saxon
habitations and the derelict cottages of fifty year ago in their hundreds were
rebuilt  to their former state, city
dwellers in their thousands would come to ogle. 
Elegies would be written about this enhancement to the beautiful Dorset countryside. Fortunes would be
spent annually to maintain them and preservation orders would rain like
confetti.   But to create the Reserve Army
of the House needy and the  Unhoused   the city bureaucrats who pose as planning
experts  forbid re- populating the


Building in
the countryside is the suggested course of action.

Towns now
are centres of unemployment , unemployment 
encourages crime. .  There is  net migration from towns towards the  countryside. 
The resources of the state are geared to the needs of the  south east 
to the detriment of the rest of this vast country which is the British Isles.  
Rural areas are under populated and the infrastructure of cities cannot
cope.   The south east is grossly
overpopulated and prosperous and the  north east is the most deprived area. 


housing problem  in cities, of  sky high site values , out of reach house
prices  and  ten year long waiting lists for social houses,
and building land unavailable  suggests an
intractable problem under  present town
centric south east warped ,corporate 
friendly planning policies.   


>From this
viewpoint in rural Dorset, the countryside is deserted. The farm practices  are 
anti –labour  and   the countryside is denuded of houses and
planning laws reward landowners with £million windfalls and punish the
houseneedy by a secret and private tax hidden within the house prices to reward
spec builders. 

People in search of work have no
call on the use of land. People owning land have no use for labour –each  being rewarded by CAP cheques in tens of
thousands of pounds annually , secretly and  increasingly. 


One cannot  not comment on the anomaly of  £3.4 billion generated by urban workers’ taxes
 and  paid each year as  Common Agricultural Policy subsidies – not
to  struggling farmers but on the
principle,  he who owns most land  gets the biggest cheque.   One cheques for  £417,000 was the annual benefit payment  to one farmer who finds time to  act as a part time Member of Parliament for
north Dorset and finds room in his bank account
for another £64,000   of tax payers money
plus parliamentary expenses.   

This  huge inflow of money inflates land values in
the countryside just as the   complete
enclosure of all bulk building land in UK for speculation purposes grossly
inflates site values and house prices in towns. 
Without removing these anomalies which are the direct result of government
intervention ,  no planning regime can
help solve the  housing problem.


houses in the countryside is going on. 
Facilitating needs-based  housing
there is the way ahead.  Prioritising
self build self occupiers’  need 

ensures  the houses of the right sort , built in the
countryside  go to those in housing need
and at the right  price/cost.  


Government don’t
intervene where they should to  stop market
destruction by land speculators – OFT sit idly by.  

do intervene where they should not – distorting land values by rewarding bulk
landowners with £3billion and rising, CAP payments .

planning regime rewards hoarders of bulk land with £1million per acre

Son of ‘Housing
wreck’ will soon be ready for general release throughout UK 

The planning
consultation needs to make representations to government to amend these
anomalies which distort housing and planning policy.

OFT is the agency to end unlawful  bulk land hoarding against the public
interest .  HM Treasury , at 1 Horse
Guards Road, is the department to cut destructive and regressive  CAP payments to bulk land owners, But what
does the Treasury know about agriculture fgs?     .   Alan Scott

National Planning Policy Framework

Department for Communities and Local Government

Zone 1/H6

Eland House

London SW1E 5DU

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