Chiltern Society’s planning manifesto calls for clear house-building guidelines

A planning manifesto, “ Protecting the Chilterns: Saving the Green Belt” has been produced by the Chiltern Society outlining a 13 point plan for dealing with housing development.

The Society, a charity with nearly 7,000 members, wants the next Government to produce clear guidelines to councils and developers about house building in the Chilterns, an area that includes the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Society wants the next Government to:

  • Reaffirm that new development in the AONB is restricted to town and village infill sites and brownfield sites (areas previously used for development)
  • Reinforce its commitment to the AONB, recognising it as an area in need of special protection
  • Consider extending the AONB where appropriate
  • Insist that new housing development throughout the Chilterns should be on infill or brownfield sites and land outside the Green Belt capable of development
  • Confirm that Green Belt protection should over-ride perceived housing need so local councils are not required to permit new development on Green Belt to meet housing targets
  • Allow local councils to adjust housing targets if, once all other possibilities have been exhausted, Green Belt land remains an only option
  • Scrap the current method for calculating housing need in the Chilterns
  • Assess housing need in the Chilterns on the basis of local requirements, including those of local businesses, and not on potential movements of population into the area from outside (except where this can be demonstrably shown to be called for by local business requirements)
  • Ensure thorough assessments are made of local infrastructure and facilities and that these are capable of supporting new populations before permitting any major development
  • Give planning bodies the authority to insist appropriate infrastructure is in place, making it a condition of consent if needs be
  • Improve contributions to the community infrastructure levy from developers and landowners to enable local authorities to fund appropriate community facilities
  • Ensure local employment opportunities are provided where major housing developments are planned
  • Consider the overall impact major development will have on the Chilterns both inside and outside the area and draw up appropriate measures
  • Take positive steps and reduce bureaucracy to encourage development of brownfield sites
  • Increase grants for reclamation or development of brownfield sites and encourage more affordable housing on such sites
  • Encourage planning authorities to ensure that developments pass a “green spaces test” before consent is approved

Tom Rodwell, who leads the Society’s planning campaign team, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Chilterns every year to walk, run, cycle, ride, learn, relax or simply escape the stress of life. Yet the Chilterns is under threat from excessive housing development as never before.

“The Government’s planning policy is causing confusion in the minds of planners, developers and landowners. It is time for clear, unequivocal guidelines”

The manifesto can be read on the Chiltern Society’s website,