Many people in the countryside wait in trepidation for news of the new planning regulations that threaten great swathes of rural Britain with new houses, of the HS2 railway route between London and Birmingham, and of the siting of new wind farms and the ungainly pylons that will march from them. Has our landscape, so valuable to our tourism industry and the nation’s health, ever faced so many threats at once?

The owners of Grade I-listed houses may struggle to get planning for a new kitchen, but they’re in a far better position than the rest of us when it comes to protecting themselves from unwanted neighbouring development. Many people are now trying to get the listed status of their property upgraded to provide greater protection.

For the rest of us, it’s time to look to our churches. Some 45% of all Grade I-listed buildings are churches. Could these buildings be our bastions of protection against development? If so, they will add value to properties in those villages in which they stand. The church may yet save rural Britain from this unhappy onslaught being driven through by the Coalition government.

* Give Country Life for Christmas and save up to 40%