Home on the Farm: Concreting the Countryside?

The ‘Home on the Farm’ initiative, mentioned in my last post, is a proposal to allow farmers to convert redundant buildings on their property into dwellings. In their coverage of the subject, news website ‘This is Somerset’ says the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England warns against ‘concreting over the countryside’.

Whether or not the CPRE did say this (I can’t find the reference on their website), the use of the concrete/countryside ‘old chestnut’ is guaranteed to get the conservation lobby’s heckles up. Seeing it, I was reminded that a while back I had tried, unsuccessfully, to find out online how much farmland would actually be needed to accommodate the 3 million new homes which, at the time (2007), was the stated target up to 2020. So I’m afraid to say I had a go at the calculation myself, using various official data that I did find as I looked for a ‘proper’ answer to my question. (If anyone can point me at a proper answer, I’d be very grateful).

By my calculation (Ruralise-3m-Homes-How-Much-Land) building 3m new homes would ‘cost’ only 1% of our farmland. No doubt this calculation is flawed in many ways; I am no expert. For instance, it doesn’t begin to suggest where the new homes will be needed and where the farmland is located. It does support my view, however, that allegations of ‘concreting over the countryside’ are alarmist.

Interestingly, a Social Market Foundation Internal Commission Report cited in my calculation mentions a survey in which half the respondents thought that over 50% of the UK’s land was developed; the total is in fact only 13%!

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