New design guide will help solar panels shine

For the first time, a simple national guide helps property owners install attractive solar panels

161013-solar-panels-picGet them right, and they can be an attractive part of your home and lower your electricity bills. That’s the message about solar panels from a countryside charity and a leading building science centre, who have teamed up to prevent common design pitfalls.

The new guide and summary leaflet on solar design, published in October 2016 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and BRE National Solar Centre, show how solar panels on buildings can look good whatever the structure or surrounding landscape [1,2].

Among the various design principles, CPRE advocates the use of panels that match the size and shape of existing roof tiles. Other suggestions include installing panels symmetrically or ensuring that panels fully cover the roof. Aimed at property owners, designers and installers, the guide and leaflet also illustrate how the sun is already helping to power an incredible range of the nation’s buildings – from homes and listed churches to greenhouses and office blocks.

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Register now for the new Bright Ideas Fund

160919-bright-ideas-fund

We are very excited to tell you about the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund, a new grant programme to help communities develop their budding community business ideas, launching this September.

The £1.85 million Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will offer community groups tailored support and grants of up to £20,000 to develop their ideas for a community business.

Register and be the first to receive the eligibility criteria and guidance when it’s released, direct to your inbox.

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What will Brexit mean for the environment?

160902 Brexit farmingCPRE member Andy Boddington writes an excellent monthly bulletin focusing on the South East – but its broad strategic scope means it’s relevant for the East Midlands too. He said yesterday:

“We are embarking on the biggest change in the way we are governed since we secured membership of the European Economic Community in 1973. Theresa May has said, “Brexit means Brexit”. At yesterday’s cabinet meeting, she ordered her ministers to stop debating whether Article 50 will be triggered. She wants a clear routemap for Britain leaving the European Union by 2020.”

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New farmers and new small farms can kick-start agricultural revolution

Brexit vote offers chance for farming to become more diverse and environmentally resilient

A new report released on 17 August 2016 by CPRE argues that farming in England needs to become more diverse to prove environmentally resilient and publicly accessible over the coming years [1]. Continue reading

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Light pollution

160818 Night_Blight report-page-001Discover the starriest spots in England, and the areas most blighted by light pollution, in our satellite maps of the country’s night skies – the most detailed and accurate ever produced.

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Could you be our new Regional Secretary?

Are you having trouble reading this on-screen? Please feel free to download the Job Description. We’d love to hear from you.                                August 2016160817 FINAL CPRE Job description 2016 (1)-page-001

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Free money to celebrate with!

The National Lottery has launched a brand new fund called Celebrate! which aims to help communities get together just for the fun of it. 160713 Celebrate logo

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Public behind plastic bag charge as support for anti-litter measure increases

As the Government collects carrier bag usage statistics for the first time today, a poll partly-commissioned by CPRE has revealed increased public support for the bag charge in England [1]. 160601 Break the Bag Habit

The ICM-conducted poll for the Break the Bag Habit (BTBH) coalition found that 70% of English respondents now find it reasonable to charge 5p for all carrier bags – an 8% increase in support in the eight months since the English charge came into force [2]. The increase was particularly marked amongst younger people, where support has jumped 10% [3].

Despite this encouraging news, the poll indicated that more people find the current charge confusing than not. The charge, introduced on 5 October 2015, does not apply to businesses of fewer than 250 employees, paper bags or franchises such as Subway. Answering the ICM survey, 42% of respondents found it confusing that only some shops charged for bags. Continue reading

Posted in campaign, community, consultation, derbyshire, east midlands, government, leicestershire, lincolnshire, litter, northamptonshire, nottinghamshire, peak district, region | Leave a comment

New national President for CPRE

160525 Emma PPottery designer and businesswoman Emma Bridgewater is to be the new national President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), succeeding former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who served four years in the role. Continue reading

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Getting builders to build

As outlined in our response to the consultation on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, the proposals focus disproportionately on securing an increase in the number of consents for housing developments, despite the system’s failure to build out the consents that developers already have. This reflects a commonly (and mistakenly) held view that a lack of supply is blighting the housing market and that only through the freeing up of more land to ease demand will things improve.

MeThis view was looked at particularly closely back in December in The Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association, by Mike Kelly and Andrew Gilg. Kelly and Gilg outline how this view assumes a rational supply and demand model view of the housing market – which understands constraints in the amount of land available as leading to inelastic supply in economic terms.

However, as the article illustrates, and as CPRE has consistently argued, there are already sufficient planning permissions granted for much of the new development required. Planning authorities should not be held responsible for a lack of build-out on land that has been allocated for development.

A major factor concerning why planning permissions aren’t built-out is that developers hold on to their land while waiting for house prices to increase, targets for house building are then missed and local authorities come under pressure to release yet more land – thus creating the impression of scarcity. This hoarding of land is a tactic that has been taken up most keenly by the volume house builders that have come to dominate the housing market.

What can be done?

Kelly and Gilg’s TCPA article refers to CPRE’s policy proposal, as set out in the Housing Foresight Paper Getting Houses Built, to provide local authorities with powers to take away planning permissions that remain unused – ‘use it or lose it’ powers.

Such a measure would, in effect, coerce developers to make use of land already with planning permission. While a three-year time limit is currently granted for permissions, the paper argues that if local planning authorities were provided with the option to shorten this allowance, it would provide them with greater powers to help tackle housing developers from sitting on their acquired land.

While supportive of this approach, Kelly and Gilg outline an alternative method to address under-development. They suggest the levy of a tax dedicated to community infrastructure and services for each day that development remained overdue, while also taking steps to ensure early build-out.

Different approaches but both attempt to address the inherent inertia besetting the housing market that leads to a housing shortage but not – crucially – a shortage of land for houses. Both approaches could be thought of as nudges to the housing market; a market which we and many others believe has become dysfunctional.

A further CPRE Housing Foresight Paper, Removing Obstacles to Brownfield Development, sets out the possibility of levying a tax on land where planning permissions have been agreed and it is clear that the developer is holding the land to increase value. The paper suggested that the levying of such a tax should be discretionary and take into account the viability of individual development schemes.

A recent CPRE blog on the NPPF Consultation proposal of a ‘housing delivery test’ – Stand and Deliver – also suggests other solutions, including tying the granting of planning permission to a contractually agreed rate of development at which homes will be built, as well as the application of financial penalties for slow build-out rates. The same blog quoted a recently published figure provided by consultants Glenigan – that there are planning permissions already granted for 658,000 homes that have not yet been built.

Clearly there are a number of ways through which developers can be ‘nudged’ to get on with building homes. The Government needs to let go of its mistaken belief that there is a shortage of land and start looking at how developers can be encouraged to get on with building.

Find out more

Read Matt Thomson’s blog, ‘Stand and Deliver

View our Housing Foresight Paper, ‘Getting Houses Built

View our Housing Foresight Paper, ‘Removing Obstacles to Development’  

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