A new col­umn from the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - You can read more about the CPRE (Nor­folk) cam­paign ‘A Vision for Nor­folk’ at www.v4n.org.uk

WE ALL recog­nise Nor­folk as be­ing a spe­cial place. But what is the true value of its land and how do you mea­sure it?

When we talk about its fu­ture it is clear that de­vel­op­ment land is much more valu­able, in pure cash terms, than other land, how­ever it is used.

This means that there is of­ten a drive to ob­tain plan­ning con­sent to raise the value of a site, giv­ing the owner a wind­fall. But when a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is made there is very lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion of the true com­par­a­tive value of the site. So much of the plan­ning of how we best use our very pre­cious as­set – land – for the fu­ture is skewed by a fi­nan­cial profit mo­tive, not based upon the true long-term value the land has.

This may be the way the mar­ket has been en­cour­aged to work, but is this in the best in­ter­ests of Nor­folk? If we changed the way we val­ued the land as­sets, would we end up with a bet­ter fu­ture for our county?

Look­ing at the value of land, per­haps its cash value is not the best place to start. If a piece of land ab­sorbs ex­cess wa­ter to pro­tect an ex­ist­ing vil­lage or hous­ing de­vel­op­ment from flood risk, what can we con­clude about its value? In the same way, the land in ques­tion may be an im­por­tant el­e­ment in a land­scape that at­tracts tourists, cre­at­ing jobs and ad­di­tional busi­ness for the neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity. It could be a piece of land that, while be­ing very suit­able for af­ford­able hous­ing for lo­cal peo­ple, gets sold for more ex­pen­sive hous­ing as that gives a much higher sale price. Per­haps it is land for grow­ing food and our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions may come to re­gret the way we are squan­der­ing the op­por­tu­nity for a fu­ture with­out food se­cu­rity.

Our liv­ing, work­ing coun­try­side needs a bal­ance of all of these things and it needs the right kind and right amount of hous­ing and other in­fra­struc­ture in the right places. Many of our coun­try es­tate own­ers have recog­nised the re­quire­ment for a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to land val­u­a­tion, ac­knowl­edg­ing that pro­vi­sion of com­mu­nity as­sets and fa­cil­i­ties is, in the long term, more valu­able than a short term cash bonus.

A county that can recog­nise this com­mu­nity value along­side cash value is a county that will pros­per most in the longer term. It will have pro­tected what makes it spe­cial, in­clud­ing its com­mu­ni­ties, and will give its econ­omy more room for long-term growth. Such an ap­proach would en­able the right kind of hous­ing where it is needed, cur­rently sim­ply not be­ing pro­vided, whilst prop­erly pro­tect­ing the coun­try­side.

Landown­ers please step for­ward. Land held in pub­lic own­er­ship must lead the way. Land should not al­ways be mea­sured sim­ply by its suit­abil­ity for de­vel­op­ment, and we risk long term dam­age to Nor­folk if we do not take into ac­count this hid­den value not cur­rently recog­nised in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses.

Above and left: Plan­ning per­mis­sion has been put in for up to 300 dwellings near Down­ham Mar­ket.

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