Planning legislation must be amended to protect countryside

Your leader on urban rewilding schemes (19 November) correctly points out the ecological value of brownfield sites such as Kent’s Swanscombe peninsula. But not all brownfield sites are as valuable, and a stronger “brownfield first” policy is still urgently needed to protect against the escalating loss of valued countryside. According to a 2021 CPRE report, there is enough brownfield land available for 1.3m new homes. Yet planning legislation favours building on greenfield sites, which is easier and more profitable for developers.

Boris Johnson recently adopted “brownfield first” rhetoric, but will it guide Michael Gove’s new planning legislation? After Chesham and Amersham, and with more byelections coming up, ministers would do well to notice what’s happening in Kent on Sunday. Campaign groups are coming together for a day of action, Save Kent’s Green Spaces. They know how much of the Garden of England will be lost if current plans for huge housing developments go ahead.

Across the country, many are distressed at the suburbanisation of their countryside. Planning legislation must now be harnessed to protect nature and open spaces.
Ros Coward
London

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