Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall documentary trailer
The project was just one highlighted by Daily Express readers hugely concerned about the amount of new-build housing affecting rural communities. Readers have highlighted projects of concern across the country totalling more than 23,000 new houses on hundreds of acres of what were once farmers’ fields.
Developers are often forced to include affordable housing in their schemes but what they build most are executive homes for wealthy professional families.
The Prince of Wales has decided to push ahead with a proposed development begun by his father King Charles which has been four years in the planning.
The royal estate wants to build on 320 acres of farmland it has owned for 20 years to the southeast of Faversham in what it describes as a “fully sustainable” estate.
The massive development includes a primary school, cricket pitch, shops and business spaces.
Resident Mark Sewell was deeply upset by the proposal: “The farmland is so rich in biodiversity and this scheme will destroy habitats.
“So many protected species will be lost, there are bats, lizards, butterflies and wild orchids. It’s so sad.
“I have concerns about losing such good farmland. In the current climate, we need food self-security. Farmland should be kept in operation at all costs.”
Last Monday, Jan 16, we highlighted the plight of the village of Alderton, Glos which local MP Laurence Robertson says is “under assault” by greenfield developers.
It has already seen two new housing estates built, a third under construction and three more seeking planning permission.
Readers have highlighted projects of concern across the country
Daily Express readers have warned that Alderton is far from alone and we have been inundated with examples of greenfield housebuilding the length of the country.
Semi-retired landscape contractor John Caddick contacted us to warn about a huge development in the tiny former coal-mining village of Hersden near Canterbury, Kent.
They have seen schemes for 620 new homes approved and a further 800 in the process of applying for planning permission.
He said: “How this development will be allowed is beyond me.”
Former pop star and retired hotelier Malcolm Wagner, 77, a close friend of the late George Best, and his wife Jane, 68, enjoy magnificent views over farmland on their 3 acre smallholding in the village of Simister five miles from Manchester.
Their property is about to be surrounded by 1700 homes as part of Labour mayor Andy Burnham’s plans for housebuilding in the region.
Malcolm said: “Development here has started with 2000 homes on green belt land a mile up the road in Heywood.
“All roads are congested at the moment and with these houses will become impassable.
“I live in a rural area with 3 horses and 3 acres our life is about to be swamped by building.
“Local people just don’t want it but no one is listening.”
Jane, 68, added: “This is just a green belt grab and it’s heartbreaking.
“We know people have to live somewhere and we’re ready to accept new housing but this is going to put a whole new town around us that wasn’t there before.
“It’s just not right.”
Daily Express reader Glenn Pears wrote of Birstall, Leics: “The situation here is typical of your report. Most of the green fields, mostly agricultural I note, have been replaced by new builds, not many affordable for the poorer among us.
“More disturbingly, nobody seems bothered by the increase in motor traffic, or the lack of new roads to support the extra load.
“The city planners here think adding a new roundabout to the busy A6 is sufficient to support 2000 extra homes.
“It’s a joke, but we the people are trapped in our estate, as the extra traffic trundles past the few arterial roads that are available.
“This must stop.”
All of our readers understand there is an acute housing shortage with a whole generation of young people unable to afford sky-high house and flat prices.
The question they all want answered is: “Why aren’t developers made to build on brownfield sites before being allowed into farmers’ fields?”
Paul Miner, acting director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
“Building thousands of homes on the highest quality Grade 1 farmland is completely inappropriate, particularly with soaring food prices and the need to be more self-sufficient in farming.
“There’s plenty of previously developed land to accommodate population growth. The amount of derelict land awaiting redevelopment in every pocket of the country is 300 times the size of the City of London.
“There’s room for 1.2 million new homes on previously developed brownfield land, much of it in town and city centres crying out for regeneration.
“In Kent alone, there are 3,143 acres of brownfield land that could accommodate almost 44,000 new homes.
“We’re in a full-fledged housing crisis, with an entire generation priced out of home ownership and many unable to afford rocketing rents.
“At the same time, it’s vital we protect the countryside so that it’s available for farming, nature and to help protect us from the climate crisis.”
A spokesperson for the Duchy of Cornwall said: “Building on agricultural land is not the first choice of a rural estate like the Duchy of Cornwall.
“However, there is an acute need for more affordable homes locally and Swale Borough Council has identified Duchy of Cornwall land in South East Faversham as the most suitable location for the future growth of the town.
“As a result, the Duchy is committed to working with local people to ensure we deliver the most sustainable development it can be.”