City-centric Budget short-changes rural communities, says CPRE

Where now for young people in the countryside?

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, has said yesterday’s Budget is a let-down for rural communities.
Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget Statement and three-year Spending Review, Mr Truman said: “The Chancellor’s ‘new age of optimism’ offers a glimmer of hope in terms of brownfield development, but overall it’s disappointing that the decades of disadvantage faced by rural communities look set to continue.
“Millions of people living in rural areas have been treated as an afterthought and for them this new era looks remarkably like the old one.
“Having razed rural transport to the ground over the past decade, the government appears to have now decided that it would require too much effort to level it back up again.
“Much of the funding announcements mentioned today [Wednesday] are no more than reheated announcements. We have yet to see any sign of a serious plan to tackle the transport deserts blighting the lives of millions of people living in rural towns and villages. Local transport for anyone living outside a major city doesn’t get a look-in.
“It’s no wonder young people in the countryside feel outpriced and overlooked – our research has shown that only two in five young people living in rural areas anticipate staying there over the next five years, with genuinely affordable housing being their biggest concern. The woolly messages of optimism could not be further from the reality faced by rural communities, especially young people living in the countryside, right now.
“The good news is that a truly brownfield-first approach does have the potential to breathe new life into those forgotten and derelict parts of our villages, towns and cities that local people want to see regenerated.
“Brownfield homes are a win-win for nature, climate and the affordable housing crisis. But to really bridge the gap between words and action, we must see these commitments backed up by a firm urban ‘brownfield first’ policy when the government revises the National Planning Policy Framework next year.

“Otherwise, we’ll continue to see poorly designed greenfield developments with no public transport links that siphon off a lot of public money.”