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National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins recently pulled no punches about the Government’s planning proposals. An approximate summary of what he said appears on the NT Blog. It’s almost withering. The original must have been quite a presentation! Let’s hope it has an effect.

“We don’t make a habit of criticising Government, but we couldn’t avoid making our position clear on the changes that were taking place in England as a result of the Localism Bill (now an Act) and the National Planning Policy Framework. And the response was amazing – we’ve received more signatures to our public petition than there are members of the Conservative Party.

The planning reforms at stake are ill-conceived and they’ve come about as a consequence of serious lobbying by developer interests. They are a denial of planning in its traditional sense. You can’t abandon planning in favour of just giving planning permission. The presumption in favour of sustainable development is particularly ill-defined – it gives a green light to all sorts of developments that would not otherwise be given the go-ahead.

We’ve tried to be a helpful voice in the debates, while at the same time using all our influence to present a clear challenge to the proposals as they stand. This is not always an easy balance to make. It’s hard to tell where things stand exactly at present, now the consultation has closed. If a poor version of the NPPF is the end result, we are preparedto make a large public noise again. 

At present, the draft NPPF just doesn’t meet its own criteria. It doesn’t ensure localism, and it won’t promote growth – and these two objectives might in some ways be antithetical. We need to re-establish the sovereignty of the plan, to ensure sensible decisions are made about the future of the country.

Beautiful and ugly are words going out of fashion – we should be open about the need to protect things on aesthetic grounds as well as simply because they are old.  Listing the countryside would be one possible option, using the evidence we have about the character of the nation’s landscapes. Then we would know more clearly which bits of the countryside would tolerate development.”

If you haven’t yet added your voice the National Trust  suggests you can sign their petition and write to your MP via Planning for People. You can also follow them on Twitter and join the #planning4ppl debate and *like* them on Facebook .


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