Housing and Infrastructure: Chilterns

Part of Welsh Grand Committee – in the House of Commons at 7:37 pm on 9th January 2018.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham 7:37 pm, 9th January 2018

I am delighted to have secured this Adjournment debate today, as it will give me the opportunity to highlight some of the fears that have been expressed to me, and that I share, about the proposals for housing and infrastructure development in Buckinghamshire and its effect on the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty.

May I welcome the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend Jake Berry, to his place? I gather that he is going to respond to this half-hour Adjournment debate. If there are any matters on which he needs clarification, I hope that he will write to me afterwards following this brief debate.

I preface my remarks by saying that I am neither against building more homes nor against modernising our infrastructure, but our policies must be pursued without sacrificing the environment, countryside and wildlife, all of which are coming under increasing pressure, no more so than in the Chilterns. If Members will forgive the history lesson, the idea of areas of outstanding natural beauty was born in 1945. John Dower, in his role as Secretary of the Standing Committee on National Parks in England and Wales, determined what they would look like. He said that

“a National Park is an extensive area of beautiful and relatively wild country in which, for the nation’s benefit and by appropriate national decision and action, (a) the characteristic landscape beauty is strictly preserved, (b) access and facilities for public open-air enjoyment are amply provided, (c) wildlife and buildings and places of architectural and historical interest are suitably protected, while (d) established farming use is effectively maintained.”