I believe that everyone should be able to access and enjoy the countryside and that we need to do more to support communities living in rural areas and to protect and preserve our natural environment.
Under the current Government rural communities have often been hit harder than others, with wages falling and the cost of living rising more rapidly than in other parts of the country. Transport is often worse and more expensive in rural areas, broadband roll-out remains slow and inadequate and rural communities lack sufficient power to make decisions about their future, including over housing and infrastructure.
The current Government have failed to address the lack of affordable rural housing and watered down the previous Labour Government’s policy that brownfield land is built on first. The Government also planned to sell off our public forests, until this was dropped in the face of overwhelming opposition.
A Labour Government will make public access to green spaces a priority and empower rural communities to plan their own services. We will also update the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to include a clear ‘brownfield first’ policy and make sure developers provide affordable housing as part of any new developments. Labour will also protect our public forests and support rural businesses by freezing business rates and energy prices for small and medium sized enterprises.
I know there is real concern about the future of our countryside and rural communities, as the CPRE manifesto highlights. I hope sharing my views outlines my support for addressing these very serious challenges.