[Diggers350] Planning to Repopulate countryside

Joan Lawson lawson.joan at btinternet.com
Tue Feb 15 20:13:18 GMT 2011

What James says about Dorset could equally describe Northumberland.  I live in a  village where some "affordable" houses are nearing completion. But just 5 miles away planning consent to rebuild a derelict cottage was given only on condition that it was a holiday cottage and not occupied all year round! Near-by a disused church cannot be refurbished as accommodation (unless just for holidays) and so it slowly crumbles. But this area supported many agricultural workers and several coal mines.There were shops, schools, a railway and stations for hundreds of people which, in well under a century, have been wiped off the map.  There have always been towns but a rural way of life with farming as the most important occcupation has been the norm for thousands of years and the soon we get back to it the better.
Joan Lawson
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: james armstrong 
  To: diggers 
  Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 6:19 PM
  Subject: [Diggers350] Planning to Repopulate countryside


  Comments invited.

  PLANNING CONSULTATION  submission                                 15 Feb 2011


  The 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.

          How 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 years.

  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.

  Immediately 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. 

  If 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 countryside. 

  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. 

   The  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.

  Building 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.  

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

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

  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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