Worcestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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I chair the group that covers both Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest, but we get very little feedback from members within Wyre Forest district.

There were 309 planning applications during 2010, mostly extensions of houses but also several employment units and one school.

Astwood Bank produced a proposal for 7 houses at the Wellington Works, constituting a change of use at a brownfield site. Across the road, another change of use occurred when permission was given for 4 flats to replace office space. At Mayfield Works in Mayfietd District, permission has been given for 23 flats, subject to providing more parking space; this is a brownfield site where existing buildings were being vandalised. Upper Norgrove House in Webheath suffered an arson attack after the Residents'Association attended a council meeting to object to any building on that site. It is in an Area of Development Restraint (ADR) and has no infrastructure. The latest 'sell-off' of school sites resulted in outline permission for 220 homes on Dingleside School land.

Combining Malvern Hills District, Worcester and Wychavon District into one report is necessary and desirable for two reasons.

First, it was the structure adopted by the regional South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy (SWJCS). Secondly, Wychavon planning applications are currently being monitored by a trio of volunteers from outside the District. This has been made possible through the publication of weekly planning lists on the District Council web site. We would prefer this work to be carried out by volunteers in Wychavon, but Worcestershire is not the only Branch which has found it difficult to maintain the independent District structure in recent years. Nevertheless, it would require only two or three volunteers from Wychavon to enable David Hawkins to resume holding district meetings.

Almost all those who attend our group meetings (usually held at Bromsgrove) represent Parish Councils within the district.

We’re an environmental charity, with over 200 local groups, a branch in every county and 55,000 members, and supporters – including more than 2,000 affiliated parish councils.

We believe a beautiful, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live. Millions of town and city dwellers recharge their batteries with a walk or a bike ride in the local Green Belt, spend weekends and holidays in our National Parks, or enjoy fresh local produce. People who live in rural areas keep our countryside beautiful and productive.

Unlike many environmental charities, CPRE has no vested interests – we own no land, rely solely on donations and grants, and are politically independent. We make decisions with the head not the heart, as much as we love the countryside, and we are possibly the only green group which has a completely holistic approach. Planning, in particular, is all about looking at the bigger picture, and our wide remit means we have to consider the whole of the country – rural and urban – when creating policy.

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