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We care about housing

Houses on a west Oxfordshire village edge Houses on a west Oxfordshire village edge Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

With a growing population there is ever more pressure to build houses. Everyone deserves a decent place to live. With a little imagination we can have both the homes we need and the countryside we cherish.

We support the need for sustainable, affordable housing. But the recent push to build so-called 'eco-towns' was, we think, a smokescreen for making house-building on green fields appear more palatable. To be truly sustainable houses must be built and planned appropriately. CPRE Oxfordshire led a concerted campaign against the proposed so-called 'eco-town' at Weston Otmoor. We argued that the eco-town label was a smokescreen for making house-building on green fields appear more palatable.

CPRE nationally calls on the house building industry to commit to five principles that will help minimise local opposition to new housing. We endorse these five principles.

1.    A brownfield-first approach to identifying sites
2.    High design and building standards
3.    New homes with decent space standards
4.    Master planning for better places, not just planning for houses
5.    Industry support for a democratic planning system.

Oxfordshire needs more housing, particularly affordable housing in villages to help keep the local communities alive. To achieve this, there is no point wheeling out the tired old cliches about evil developers on one hand and nimby environmentalists on the other. We need to work together so that we can have the housing we all need without damaging our countryside.

Many villages warmly welcome new housing developments. New homes attract new residents and provide homes for local people. This helps keep village schools open, and local shops and businesses trading, all of which contribute to the rural economy. Most villages have previous developed land within them which, with a little imagination, can be developed appropriately. Village infrastructure can evolve to keep pace with small, appropriate developments like these.

Villagers tell us what they don't want are whopping great 'toytown' estates on greenfield sites with hundreds of houses packed in. Villages can be overwhelmed by such estates, changing their character, and very often the existing infrastructure can't keep pace. People move to rural areas for the tranquillity and the community and this is what we want to protect and maintain: thriving, growing, lively rural communities.


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