Sunday, 21 December 2014

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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Readers' comments (13)

  • abner arrow

    No mention of border land owners, who are rubbing hands together. Which party are they supporting?

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  • Rick Campbell

    Perhaps it woukd serve the CPRE if builders invaded and made a complete dogs breakfast of developments -- perhaps an environmentally friendly, in-keeping-with-the-locality, sensitive and well consulted social housing development(s) would be a better option?

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  • F451

    I wonder how this will compare with the expected £5bn road and rail building plan suggested by the IMF - obviously no green areas will be harmed in the making of this economy!

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  • Jon Southall

    I'm sure the way forward is green development, in tune with the green belt land:

    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/Man-builds-stunning-hobbit-yahoofinanceuk-1514084024.html

    (Shhh - don't tell Shapps!)

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  • Chris Webb

    I am a critic.
    I am not reassured
    The headline is therefore false

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  • Mike Batt

    Are you the Walrus as well?

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  • Rick Campbell

    I look a bit like a walrus with my facial hair and rotund stature Melvin.

    goes off 'singing' .. "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together..."

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  • Gavin Rider

    Cameron - disingenuous to the last breath.

    The NPPF has little to do with helping young people take their first step on the housing ladder and everything to do with promoting profit for developers and land owners.

    The priority in the NPPF is to stimulate the economy, and it sets out to do that by promoting more building in places where it would not go ahead under current planning policies.

    By definition that means removing planning protection that certain locations currently have, purely to promote economic growth.

    Cameron and Clark can try to dress it up as a "simplification" campaign as much as they like, but the core element of it is to allow development on cheaper land so that uneconomic developments will become economically viable.

    The cheapest land is currently agricultural land. It is cheap because development is not allowed on it. By allowing development on "unclassified" countryside, there will be a surge of land acquisitions, until land owners realise that their farm land is now worth an awful lot more than it used to be.

    Then there will no longer be a supply of cheap land. It will be a one-hit profit making exercise where the quickest to exploit the change will reap the greatest rewards. It will not persist, so by the very definition of the word, the development will not be "sustainable".

    Thus it is shown that the basic concept of the NPPF reforms is bonkers, but a lot of rich developers will make even more money in a very short time as a result of it, a lot of farmers will get a huge cash bonus and will be able to retire to the sun leaving the carnage of the countryside behind them.

    Much of the open countryside will have been destroyed in this pulse of pointless development activity. For what? Short term economic gain for the few, that is what. It has nothing to do with promoting sustainable development - that is a smokescreen.

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  • Gavin - "much of the open countryside will have been destroyed". There is currently around 18.3 million hectares of agricultural land in the UK. At a density of around 80 dwellings per hectare the 55,000 affordable housing target could be met with the development of 687 hectares (or 0.0000375%) of the total.

    At that rate it'd take around 27,000 years to build over 1% of UK agricultural land.

    I appreciate there are concerns over where this will be, but a bit of perspective is helpful. Ultimately if we want cheaper homes we need to build more, assuming there are reasonable limits imposed this seems a senisble plan to me.

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  • F451

    But we have not got 27,000 years John.
    According to the Mayan calandar we only have 14.9 months left,so even if every builder went hell for leather (and even then only if the Shapps would allow such a thing as actually building places for people to call home) barely a blade of grass would be lost from the belt of green that is 4 times larger than any other developed nation in Europe.

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