1. Built environment
August 15, 2017

23 reasons the CPRE’s campaign to cover south east England in houses is the best thing that could ever happen

By Jonn Elledge

You know, I’ve sometimes been a bit down on the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. I’ve always thought it to be an absolute nest of NIMBYs: old, rich people with big houses and too much spare time, whose only amusement in life is ensuring that younger, poorer ones never have a hope of attaining secure housing, let alone ownership, by preventing any and all building projects, and pulling the ladder up behind them.

But I was wrong. I’ve misjudged them. Because today they tweeted this:

And this is the most ambitious, most radical – most amazing – housing policy I’ve ever seen. Here are 22 reasons why.

1) Cities are brilliant.

2) City > not city.

3) “London-on-sea” is a really cool name.

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4) And London could do with its own seaside, couldn’t it? New York has a seaside, London wants to believe it’s as good as New York, so surely London should have a seaside too?

5) In fact, why shouldn’t it have loads of seasides? Southend! Margate! Hastings!

6) Not Brighton though for some reason; there’s a green tongue showing a distinct lack of development along the Sussex Coast. Looking at this map, indeed, it’s entirely possible the CPRE is proposing to bulldoze it altogether. What does the CPRE have against Brighton? Any theories? Anyone at all?

7) Imagine how many houses you could get in there, though.

8) Most of the countryside is effectively off limits to the likes of us at the moment: covered with private property and chemcial-drenched crops and so on. By turning large chunks of it into parks, we’d actually be making it easier for people to access greenery, because

            a) they’d be able to walk, rather than drive there,

b) they’d actually be able to get in without some farmer with a shotgun yelling, “Geroff my land!

9) Anyway, I was menaced by some cows once and I didn’t like it.

10) Honestly, think of all the houses. I’m getting all light-headed just thinking about it.

11) We could keep the good bits like the North Downs. In fact, they’d be more accessible to more people if there were houses near them, than they are at the moment, when there aren’t. Think of them like a really, really big Hyde Park.


13) Have you been to south Essex recently? It’s rubbish.

14) This is not going to make Canvey any worse, is what I’m saying here.

15) Tilbury is already the port of London, so that might as well be in London already, really.

16) Tunbridge Wells is actually pretty nice (the Pantiles, and so on). But it’d be nicer if it was part of London, because London is just better than places which aren’t London, don’t you find?

17) Jesus and Mary mother of god, think of all the houses, I need a lie down.

18) Judge Dredd is cool.

19) Looking at that map, I reckon, we could probably quadruple the population of London. Easy. And then, we could finally retake our rightful place as the largest city on Earth. Take that, Tokyo!

20) Since London is the most productive city in Britain, this exciting new land use policy would almost certainly solve the productivity puzzle that has been baffling economists for a decade, and we’d only need to change one policy.

21) It would mean we didn’t need to build on that Asda car park that it turns out everyone’s so concerned about.

22) At long last, when people send CityMetric angry messages reading, “Not everyone lives in London, you know!” we’d be able to reply, “They do, actually.”

23) Anything that upsets the CPRE is, ipso facto, good.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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The author wishes to make clear that he isn’t actually in favour of concreting the whole of Kent, but if the CPRE are going to be silly about this then so is he.

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