Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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On the 31 August, the Cambridge News published the attached letter from CPRE Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in response to the LSE’s Duncan Stott’s statement “There is overwhelming evidence that green belts are a major cause of the housing shortage”.

Our response follows:

Duncan Stott of the London School of Economics has recently stated "There is overwhelming evidence that green belts are a major cause of the housing shortage".  Other people are under the same perception, witness the number of applications which have been put before the Inspector at the resumed inquiry into the Cambridge and the South Cambridgeshire local plans.  We dispute the assertion that building houses in the green belt sites is a cause of the housing shortage.   It is the reluctance to build on previously-developed (brownfield) land in our cities and towns that is the major cause. 

In November 2014 CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) produced a report which concluded that a minimum of 976,000 new homes could be built on identified brownfield sites, and even this figure could be an underestimates of suitable land as it only identifies land already derelict or with planning permission; it does not include currently underused land that could be new brownfield land when it becomes available.

The Conservative manifesto for the 2015 election committed the incoming Government to protecting the Green Belt, but it is not living up to its promise.  CPRE, in another piece of research  'Why brownfield development works' (March 2016) reveals figures that show that housing development proposed for the Green Belt has shot up by another 50,000 to more than a quarter of a million houses.

Let us remember that a major purpose of the Cambridge green belt is to preserve the unique character of Cambridge as a compact, dynamic city with a thriving historic centre. The green belt was carefully reviewed around 15 years ago and significant tracts of land on the edge of the city were taken out of green belt and allocated for development. That development is continuing and we see the results.  At the time of the green belt review it was generally accepted (particularly  by the Government planning inspectors) that any further land taken from the green belt would be unacceptable and that, if the Cambridge sub-region had to continue to grow, other sustainable solutions would have to be found. We in CPRE fear that further loss of this small green belt will lead to urban sprawl destroying the city's character and engulfing our rural villages.

Shirley Fieldhouse
CPRE Cambridgeshire & Peterborough branch
Gainsborough Close, Cambridge


A Cambridgeshire farm is being used as a model of best practice by countryside campaigners. A national report, “New Model Farming”, published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), praises Whitehall Farm at Broughton for its innovative approach to minimising soil erosion whilst maximising profitability and sustainability.

Dame Fiona Reynolds cuts the celebration cake
Speaker CPRE’s Oliver Hilliam

Delegates from CPRE Cambridgeshire and Peterborough were delighted  to attend this event on the 6th July in Peterborough, hosted by CPRE East Midlands and East of England Regions.

Over 60 members, volunteers and staff from fourteen branches in the East of England and East Midlands regions (and even further afield!) came together to celebrate 90 years of CPRE and our achievements.

The day included presentations from Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, who spoke about the arguments in her book, The Fight for Beauty, and Oliver Hilliam, CPRE Senior Communications and Information Officer, and co-author of 22 ideas that saved the English Countryside.


Dame Fiona Reynolds addresses delegates

CPRE’s future was not forgotten, and a range of workshops including campaigning, planning (co-hosted by our branch Chairman Michael Monk), branch development and communications enabled delegates to learn from each and share experiences and advice.


There were plenty of opportunities to meet people from other CPRE branches, staff from CPRE National office, and representatives from other organisations.

Monday, 16 November 2015 00:10

CPRE Cambridgeshire & Peterborough AGM 2015

Written by Samantha Owen

Our AGM was held on 10th September at the Countryside Centre, Hinchingbrooke Country Park, Huntingdon.  Our President Christopher Vane Percy welcomed members and guests alike.  


A highlight of the evening was presenting CPRE awards to four of our volunteers: 


Winner: Lawrence Wragg, 20 Year Contribution Award


Winners: Sean Traverse-Healy and Gareth Ridewood, 10 Year Contribution Award


Winner: Shirley Fieldhouse, Lifetime Achievement Award


Our newsletter editor James Burton, who wasn’t able to come to the AGM, also received an award for Making a Difference.  Our speaker, Jason Peters, then gave us an entertaining and fast-paced talk on “The Lost Forests of Huntingdonshire”.  Jason covered a range of subjects – we were extremely impressed that he managed to cover local history, mediaeval history, language, law, forestry, cartography and landscape in one talk!  For information about Jason’s research and talk visit:



Tuesday, 15 September 2015 20:02

Green Belt is 60- but not ready to be pensioned off

Written by Samantha Owen


As the Green Belt celebrated its 60th birthday, a new poll showed clear support for it to be protected. Countryside campaigners in Cambridgeshire said it’s time for the Government to turn its words into action and are calling for the Green Belt that surrounds Cambridge to be left to do its job - ensuring the City retains its unique character.


The Ipsos MORI poll, commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), shows that nearly two-thirds of people surveyed believe that Green Belt land should not be built on. The strong support for the Green Belt is clear across a range of different groups, including 62% of people who live in towns and cities.


“This suggests that people who live in urban areas feel they too benefit from a protected green belt,” said the Chairman of Cambridgeshire CPRE, Michael Monk.


He says the Cambridge Green Belt was one of those designated specifically to protect the special character of a city and its setting. “It is, however, one of the smallest green belts in the country,” he continued. “In recent years substantial areas on the edge of Cambridge city have been taken out of the original green belt to allow major developments to take place - to the north, north-west, east and south.


"This small green belt is fragile and precious and we must protect what is left of it. There can be no justification for building on more green belt here given the large scale of building that has already taken place and is continuing to take place on our green belt.


“We all want Cambridge to prosper but we also want it to continue to be a special place for future generations to enjoy. Let's celebrate the protection the green belt gives Cambridge where the city is surrounded by open countryside which penetrates even right into the historic heart of the city."


The anniversary poll came just weeks after the Government re-emphasised its support for Green Belt protection at the launch of its Productivity Plan. However, despite this support and existing protections, local communities have repeatedly found themselves fighting proposals to build on Green Belt land. CPRE research shows more than 200,000 houses are currently planned for Green Belt land nationally.


“We know the Green Belt is greatly appreciated,” said Mr Monk. “It’s served an important purpose for 60 years, and this is not the time to pension it off.”


L-R Su Sayer, Ian Jackson, Michael Monk, Sally Jackson (behind; no relation to Ian!), Shirley Fieldhouse (front), Lawrence Wragg


Su Sayer CBE, the newly elected national chairman of CPRE made a fact-finding visit to Cambridgeshire to meet local trustees and committee members to find out about the issues confronting Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Su noted that there are plans to build over 100,000 new homes in the area as well as potential adverse impacts on the landscape and high grade farmland from wind turbines and solar farms. 


Su also met the Chairman of the Friends of Holt Island Nature Reserve and Mayor of St. Ives, Ian Jackson, who gave Su and the committee a guided tour of Holt Island at St Ives. Su commented, "I greatly appreciated understanding more about the pressures on rural Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I was very impressed with the beauty of Holt Island and the views of the meadows of the River Great Ouse - what a beautiful piece of England!"


L-R Ian Jackson (Mayor of St Ives and Chairman of the Friends of Holt Island Nature Reserve), Su Sayer

L-R Shirley Fieldhouse (committee member) Michael Monk (head just visible!), Su Sayer, Lawrence Wragg

L-R, Su Sayer, Lawrence Wragg (Branch Vice-Chairman), Sean Traverse-Healy (Branch Vice-Chairman), Sally Jackson (committee member)

L-R Ian Jackson, Su Sayer, Michael Monk, Tracey Hipson (Branch Administrator), Sally Jackson, Shirley Fieldhouse

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