THE recent decision of a planning inspector that south Worcestershire should build 28,370 houses between 2006 and 2030 rather than the 23,200 proposed by the development plan is much worse than the indicated rise of 22 per cent.

Stripping out the houses that have already been built or approved, the number for which sites need to be found is now 19,676 instead of 14,506, or a rise of 36 per cent.

This is a massive task considering the urgency with which consultations and decisions need to be taken, bearing in mind that the previous proposal came about after several years of discussion, some of them inevitably acrimonious.

This final rush to the finishing line will undoubtedly result in many inappropriate sites being selected.

We have come to this undesirable end because of meddling in the planning system by successive governments and weakening of countryside protection by the current government.

It is too late to ameliorate the situation this time, but it is essential that more support is given to conservation groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust in their endeavour to strengthen countryside protection and ensure that it is not again treated as if it is just open space waiting to be built on.

Frank Hill

Campaign to Protect Rural England