Development in Rural Areas

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1964.

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Photo of Mr James Dance Mr James Dance , Bromsgrove 12:00 am, 7th February 1964

Different parts of the country present different problems. For instance. The hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) spoke of dwindling villages. In the Midlands, we have exactly the reverse. There, villages are growing so big so rapidly that they are destroying the beauty of the countryside. A new town is to be built in my constituency. I support the project because, of course, good homes must be found for people. But, if we are to have the new towns, let us try to preserve the beauty of the countryside.

Driving around the country, I am horrified to see villages being destroyed piecemeal. If, because of employment developments, more housing accommodation has to be put in certain districts, then let us have a decision to develop a particular village or town and leave the others alone. This is a very important aspect.

In mentioning two villages in my area, I want to make it clear to the clerk of the Bromsgrove Rural District Council that his administration is not being attacked. The villages are not even in the same county. The local parish councils and the people who live in the parishes are not kept sufficiently in touch with what is going on. For example, there is a housing estate in one beautiful old village, but no one knew anything about it until one morning a lot of gentlemen were found sticking pegs round a field. Notification of this sort of development ought to be displayed in the parish church so that the village people can learn what is proposed. I know that every parish is represented on the rural district council, but sometimes that representation is not all that brilliant, and in this case no one knew anything about the proposed development.

It is also very important that local people should be consulted about the type of houses to be built in their village. In a village which I know very well, some county council houses have been built to house people working in the agriculture institute, and there are also rural district council houses in the village. They have no relationship to each other. They are of different colours and they do not fit with the countryside in any respect.

One of the finest examples of what I have in mind is to be found in the village of Aynho, which is to the south of Banbury. This is a beautiful old village with almost all the houses built entirely of stone. Some years ago, a new housing estate of quite a few houses was built. They were ordinary conventional houses made of brick, but the authorities were wise enough to face them with stone, with the result that Aynho is still a beautiful village. Surely more of this could be done. I hate to see buildings which are horrible and completely out of place in villages composed of thatched cottages and so on.