Help stop the madness of building in the countryside while derelict sites in our towns and cities go to waste

An important appeal from CPRE President, Emma Bridgewater

I imagine you have your own special reasons for wanting to protect our countryside. For me, it’s a love that reaches back to childhood: memories of picnicking in the dreaming meadows of the River Cherwell or standing amid sweeping Hertfordshire fields, feeling like a tiny speck under a vast sky, are deeply engrained in my sense of happiness and completion. 

But more and more of our treasured havens are coming under threat. The pressure to build more houses as quickly as possible has led to some disastrous changes to how development is planned and delivered across England.

To rub salt into the wound, this hasn’t actually resulted in more houses being built overall – just more houses gobbling up green fields on the edges of our towns and villages.

Surely we can do better?

I was recently shown three brownfield sites in Sheffield that were challenging but full of potential. It really came home to me how we must start making far-sighted, intelligent decisions about how we use previously developed land. Not only will this save our beautiful countryside but it can breathe new life into our towns and cities.

How you can help

Determined campaigning by CPRE has resulted in brownfield development being put firmly back on the Government’s agenda. So much work has gone into achieving this, but there’s still an awful lot more to do. We must now win new ‘brownfield first’ policies which drive developers away from greenfield sites and bring brownfield sites to the front of the queue.  

Nothing less will do.

Please make a donation today to support this vital campaign. Your gift will help CPRE marshal evidence and present strong arguments to persuade MPs and ministers to make brownfield development a national priority.

Thank you,

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If we truly want to save our countryside, we must win new ‘brownfield first’ policies – and make sure greenfield development is restricted at the same time.

What has CPRE done to help win new, effective brownfield policies?

In the last two years we have published in-depth, irrefutable evidence to counter objections to building on brownfield land – and our pressure is beginning to pay off.

The Government virtually turned its back on brownfield in 2012 and seemed determined to build almost anywhere.

Now, thanks to powerful and persistent campaigning by CPRE, brownfield is definitely back on their agenda: ministers now say ‘we will ensure brownfield land is used as much as possible for new development’.

Our brownfield milestones:

  • November 2014: we delivered evidence of enough brownfield land in England to accommodate 1 million homes
  • December 2015: we convinced the Government to commit to a new statutory register of brownfield sites suitable for new housing
  • December 2015: we persuaded the Government to pledge £2 billion to promote brownfield development
  • March 2016: we proved brownfield sites are being built out, on average, six months faster than greenfield sites
  • November 2016: we published new research, based on government data, which shows that suitable brownfield sites across England can provide up to 1.4 million new homes

What needs to happen now to make ‘brownfield first’ a reality?

While we welcome the greater focus on brownfield, what the Government is doing is still not sufficient to increase brownfield development to the levels needed – or to protect the countryside.

We are calling for the introduction of new ‘brownfield first’ planning policies, hand-in-hand with powerful financial incentives that drive developers away from green fields.

In November, the Government will publish a housing white paper which will include measures to significantly speed up housebuilding. CPRE campaigners are already talking to Government officials to try to determine and influence these proposals.

We are hoping to see the Government’s commitment to brownfield reflected in their plans. But if not, we are ready to step-up our campaign to safeguard our countryside.

Please, if you can, make a donation today, and support our campaign to make brownfield truly come first.  

Thank you. 


Your details

  • £15 could help a CPRE branch work with a local authority to help identify and deliver development on a brownfield site in their area.
  • £25 could help CPRE parliamentary campaigners prepare briefings to persuade ministers and MPs to do more to restrain greenfield development and prioritise brownfield sites.
  • £50 could help fund the publication of research and irrefutable evidence to support our key arguments for more and better use of brownfield land.

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