Coalition calls for new rural vision

A coalition of six national organisations is calling for a new vision for rural communities, to safeguard the future of the countryside.

The Rural Coalition, which is chaired by Matthew Taylor MP, author of last year’s government report on rural housing and employment, plans to campaign for reforms which will create a strong, confident and sustainable countryside.

The six organisations – which represent councils, rural businesses, landowners, environmental campaigners, planners and rural communities – have joined forces to press for a fundamental change of approach at both national and local level.

“We’re seeking a debate on setting a new agenda, so that the right action is taken to ensure that the countryside is in a fit state to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to help England meet its environmental and economic needs,” said Mr Taylor.

The aim is to present a clear policy framework to the Government, he added. “Next year, as the country emerges from recession and a newly elected government comes to office, we will set out more detail in our proposals. This will include policy and practical changes.”

The coalition prospectus criticises current policy, which it says has allowed rural communities to become less and less sustainable and self-sufficient.

It also highlights that much of the countryside is in danger of becoming “part dormitory, part theme park and part retirement home”. It calls for vibrant villages, thriving economies, flourishing towns and great local services as the way forward.

Already involved in the coalition are Action with Communities in Rural England, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Country Land and Business Association, the Local Government Association, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association.

Other major national bodies have expressed an interest in joining the coalition, with a number of them expected to do so shortly.