Suburbanising the countryside

Rural landscapes deserve much more consideration and respect than currently granted.

Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash

In the 22 November 2023 edition of Country Life, Simon Jenkins writes a fitting article on the need for a Domesday book of landscape for the protection of the countryside. He suggests that rural landscapes need to be safeguarded by being assigned grades protection, according to value – embracing views, coastlines, forests, hills and valleys.

The countryside is a unique and fast depleting national resource, which once lost is lost forever. Nearly half England is developed, green belt or protected as a National Landscape (AONB) – the rest is vulnerable (farm) land, which deserves more respect and protection than currently bestowed. Rather than a progressive approach to save embodied carbon and exploiting existing infrastructures by densifying built-up areas, refitting old (or vacant) buildings, the countryside is being concreted, and has become a development “patchwork of local war zones”.

Jenkins writes that rural development has become “a morass of wasted time, divided communities, protests, costs, litigation and appeals. England’s current planners are not local councils who know their areas, let alone local citizens. They are Whitehall policy makers, inspectors and judges”. The state of planning is now, that by “giving one inch of ground simply puts pressure on the one next door”.

According to Jenkins, by affording rural landscapes with protection gradation, thousands of acres of land would be released where development may be permitted and thus allowing for more building rather than less.

A great read. The beautiful landscapes we all cherish, vital for biodiversity and the environment are rapidly vanishing due to regressive planning strategies, and often only for benefit of developer profits.

Subscribers of Apple News+ can read the full article here.