I understand as well as the next man that the environmental and landscape value of the countryside is a precious commodity and should not be compromised by development - but the countryside has to sustain the body as well as the spirit and that is one of the issues the Government has attempted to address through its National Planning Policy Framework.
I was therefore rather surprised to read that one prominent MP and advisor to Number 10 had announced that the National Planning Policy Framework will harm the English countryside and backfire on the Government.
It’s reverting to the scare-mongering tactics that claims the NPPF will see every bit of green concreted over and built on within a few short years and that, of course, is nonsense.
Allowing some kind of incremental growth in the countryside – whether that’s focused on hamlets, villages or small rural towns - could play an important part in tackling the national housing shortage.
Without growth, rural settlements will continue to lose services and young families, turning them into dormitory settlements.
The CLA has argued for many years that the countryside needs a level of development to generate economic activity and that is what the NPPF is aiming to achieve – and it is the only way to deliver housing and economic growth in the countryside.
The biggest problem we face is that many rural local authorities do not have up-to-date local plans despite the fact that the current Government – and, indeed, previous governments – have fought long and hard to convince local planning authorities to deliver these plans.
There are no chocolates in the chocolate box and if we want to hold on to our beautiful landscapes and lovely villages and maintain and manage them, then we need the third leg of sustainability – which is economic activity.