Friday, 16 September 2011

National Planning Policy Framework

The government is pushing ahead with plans to loosen planning controls on housebuilding on greenfield sites. Good news for archaeology = more sites? No.
Even under the Major government the proportion of homes built on 'brownfield' sites went up from 55% to 80%. This new proposal with reverse the trend.
Builders will switch from brownfield to greenfield because it is cheaper to build on virgin land (and more profitable). Most excavations are carried out on brownfield sites due to there having been a continuity of settlement at certain locations (near rivers, valley bottoms, estuaries etc.). Most of our cities towns  and villages are ancient locations. They are in a constant state of redevelopment. That is where the work is. The ethos of archaeologists is that if the site is not to be destroyed leave well alone - it's called 'preservation in situ'.
This will not mean more work for archaeologists but it will mean more profits for developers and the destruction of more of our countryside as they switch from costly brownfield to cheap greenfield. Thus no actual increase in house numbers.
Also the price of housing remains high, which is what developers and government want. Restricting supply supports hefty margins and profits and as most voters own their homes they want the capital appreciation, whatever the social cost, and will vote accordingly.
Even the National Trust chairman Sir Simon Jenkins called the framework "a c**p document".  

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