Proposed Housing Allocation Into The North Wessex Downs AONB to the North of Harwell Campus (550 dwellings) and to the East of Harwell Campus (850 dwellings).
Communities secretary Eric Pickles and housing minister Brandon Lewis have underlined the government view that thousands of brownfield sites are available for housing and should be given development priority.
Changes to the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) published on Monday, 6 October, by the Department for Communities and Local Government discusses how councils should protect green space and keep urban sprawl at bay through their local plans. Once green belt boundaries have been established, they should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, the guidance insists.
Other measures released on 4 October to coincide with the guidance, re-emphasise government action taken in 2010 to protect green belt land, including selling brownfield land that is surplus for development.
“This government has been very clear that when planning for new buildings, protecting our precious green belt must be paramount," said Mr Pickles. "Local people don’t want to lose their countryside to urban sprawl, or see the vital green lungs around their towns and cities to unnecessary development.”
“Today’s guidance will ensure councils can meet their housing needs by prioritising brownfield sites, and fortify the green belt in their area.”
Lewis added that the government has put local plans at the heart of the planning system so that people can make decisions on which parts of their local area should be developed.
Andrew Lord the Planning Advisor for the AONB also notes that “the changes to the NPPG in the October 2014 version are clear in that the constraints to development are not just about Green Belt but the Government have chosen again to highlight the protection given to AONBs within the existing National Planning Policy Framework. It should also be noted that unlike Green Belt, AONBs are protected by law and are part of a family of nationally designated landscapes that the Government affords the highest level of protection. We therefore hope that the South and Vale District Councils reconsider their proposed substantial housing allocations into greenfield sites within the AONB around Harwell Campus following this latest Government advice and in response to local objections.”