Has anyone spotted another government sleight of hand attempting to implement contentious proposals by offering apparent protections to the countryside?

There are protections built into the new government White Paper, 'Planning for the Future', August 2020 version, with 'Protected Areas'.

Many people in Herefordshire will hope, and indeed expect, that large parts of the county will be allocated to these protected zones.

This allocation is likely to be largely wishful thinking, however, because the process will not be decided by local consultation, and/or local vote, but imposed by government.

There are warm reassuring words for the protection of the iconic countryside, but so are there similar reassurances in the NPPF and the Herefordshire Core Strategy, (the latter adopted in 2015).

The protections proposed in the White Paper are not unlike those contained In the NPPF (contribute to the county's distinctiveness, in particular its settlement pattern, landscape, biodiversity and heritage assets; conservation and enhancement etc) and the Herefordshire Core Strategy (e.g. ensure development integrates appropriately into its surroundings; protect, conserve, and where possible enhance etc.) all fine words routinely ignored in so many cases by developers and planning authorities alike, the result of which has been many public objections to many planning applications, and this not only in Herefordshire.

That these objections themselves are largely ignored leads many people to wondering just why they should bother to put pen to paper.

In planning application after planning application local objections are totally ignored. The spirit of these documents is being routinely ignored.

In Herefordshire it seems that we have two groups of people, one group of people so proud, and protective of the beautiful countryside (and rightly so), and another group indifferent to its gradual destruction.

The second group see the countryside as nothing other than an opportunity for yet more and more building, and of styles that are not natural and harmonious extensions of the well liked, well respected built environment that has stood the test of time.

There are places for modern developments, but the outstanding areas of Herefordshire are not them.

It we don't have a county wide plan for development our once picturesque countryside will be dotted with modern housing, and no longer be the iconic view which attracts tourists and holidaymakers (both of which are much needed for our local economy) to our county.

The villages will become surrounded by modern housing instead of evolving the best of what the past has given us but with the convenience of modern amenities.

David Oram