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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Councils 'fail on urban sprawl'
Building site
Halting urban sprawl has social and economic benefits, the CPRE says
Local authorities across England appear to be ignoring government policy and encouraging "urban sprawl", countryside campaigners claim.

Government targets introduced in 2000 called on councils to increase the density at which homes were built and recycle brownfield sites.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has named 35 councils it says are failing to meet either target.

CPRE's analysis is based on government statistics published last month.


The targets set in 2000 called for new housing developments across England to average 30 to 50 dwellings per hectare (dpha), and for 60% to come from building on previously-developed brownfield land or through conversions.

Last month's figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) showed a 30dpha average had been achieved in 2003 - up from 27dpha in 2002 - while use of recycled land for last year was provisionally estimated at 66%.

Wansbeck, Northumberland
Alnwick, Northumberland
North Lincolnshire
South Holland, Lincolnshire
Richmondshire, North Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
Waveney, Suffolk
Harborough, Leicestershire
Redditch, Hereford & Worcs
Caradon, Cornwall

The CPRE report says the best-performing councils have enabled the nationwide average to hit the targets.

But it warns: "too many councils continue to give planning permission to low density housing developments. And too many councils continue to release greenfield sites for housing too readily".

The CPRE says 72% of councils - 253 of 353 authorities - achieved less than 30dpha between 1999 and 2002.

And a quarter - 88 councils - averaged 20dpha or less during those years, CPRE says.

The CPRE admits that councils' ability to recycle land depends on how much vacant and derelict land is available, but the report identifies "a surprising variability in performance".

More than half of councils - 190 - fell short of the 60% target, the CPRE says.


CPRE planning campaigner Julie Stainton said: "We ask councils to think carefully about how they can improve their performance, working with developers to get away from wastefully low housing densities and to make better use of conversions and under-used or vacant land for new homes.

Milton Keynes, Bucks
Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire
Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Kingston upon Hull
Swindon, Wiltshire
Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland
Blackpool, Lancashire
Bradford, West Yorkshire
Solihull, West Midlands
"But the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister should also make greater use of the powers it has to prevent councils and developers from ignoring these important anti-sprawl policies."

The report calls for more government intervention on proposals for large greenfield developments and where councils are short of the 30dpha target.

It also suggests the target for recycling land should be raised to 75%.

The CPRE says anti-sprawl policies encourage urban regeneration, make public transport more viable and reduce people's reliance on their cars by siting homes closer to shops and services.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the performances of individual councils.

But he said the government was keen to see sufficient new homes "in the right place".

"The aim is to deliver sufficient housing completions to meet planned housing requirements, " he said.

"This means building new homes on 'sustainable brownfield' sites as far as possible, but our policies don't rule out 'sustainable greenfield' sites built only where it's to meet a housing need that cannot otherwise be met."

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