Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Cameron reassures planning critics

David Cameron has confirmed his commitment to the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ as the row over proposed planning reforms continues to rage.

In a letter sent to the National Trust last night, the Prime Minister said he believed that ‘sustainable development has environmental and social dimensions as well as an economic dimension’, adding that his government acknowledged ‘the need for a balance between the three.’

He added: ‘We must ensure that the planning system supports our objectives for growth and employment, as well as building environmental and social capital. That is why we believe the presumption is an important part of the new planning guidance.

‘Where businesses are seeking to relocate or expand they should be able to do so. And many of our young people find it increasingly difficult to take their first steps to home ownership. This situation is unacceptable.’

The National Trust has welcomed Mr Cameron’s intervention and said it will work with planning minister Greg Clarke on the NPPF.

Fiona Reynolds, the Trust’s director general, said: ‘Our primary concern for the planning system is that it should be a neutral framework which balances the needs of society, the environment, as well as the economy. It is a great relief to hear from the Prime Minister that there is no intention to change this over-riding purpose.’

The National Trust, along with the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, has been one of the most vocal critics of parts of the controversial draft national planning policy framework. The groups are concerned that the current draft unfairly favours house builders and threatens greenfield land.

Consultation on the draft NPPF is due to end on 17 October.

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