A COUNTRYSIDE charity in Wiltshire has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement to prioritise development on brownfield sites.

CPRE Wiltshire chairman Anne Henshaw called on Wiltshire Council to include this strategy in their Local Plan revision.

Boris Johnson used his Conservative Party conference speech to signal a commitment to protecting green spaces from unscrupulous development and a brownfield-first approach to new building.

Mr Johnson told the party conference that new homes will be built on previously developed brownfield land.

He said there was no reason that the countryside should be lost to new unaffordable homes, adding "you can… see how much room there is to build the homes that young families need… beautiful homes, on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense."

The change of policy means Housing, Communities and Local Government Ministers are now under pressure to tell local councils to withdraw planning permission for nearly 200,000 homes on greenfield sites.

Mrs Henshaw said: "The Prime Minister has indicated that he believes the countryside needs protecting from a developer free-for-all which was the risk with the previous planning proposals.

"This could be great news for Wiltshire where we are dealing with the threat of thousands of homes in Chippenham on beautiful green countryside as well as the expansion of the A350 which will inevitably lead to developments along the route.

"There is also a risk that greenfield sites around Swindon, including historic rural villages, will be developed. These include Calne, the golf course development in Bradford on Avon, Malmesbury, Pewsey, Purton, Downton and Royal Wootton Bassett.

"We have been subjected to a number of applications on greenfield sites outside of towns and village boundaries using the now discredited lack of housing supply.

"Why do developers not look to build on the brownfield sites already identified as sustainable locations for the future? Wiltshire Council should be looking to incorporate this welcome approach into the revision of their Local Plan.

"I hope this speech is a prelude to an official brownfield first policy which must stop green spaces being viewed as 'development land in waiting' and instead focus on regeneration and the building of sustainable homes and communities."

Tom Fyans, the CPRE's deputy chief executive, said: "The Prime Minister could not be more explicit – there is no reason to allow the countryside and local green spaces to be opened up to unscrupulous developers building unaffordable homes.

"This is a massively encouraging for MPs, CPRE’s local groups and campaigners up and down the country who have fought tooth and nail to protect their local green spaces and to continue to have a say in the planning system."