Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the National Trust, said: “We hope this White Paper is a sign that the Government is shifting away from blaming the planning system for the shortage of new housing, and is getting more resources into over-stretched council planning teams.
“Indeed, planning permission has been granted on land for more than a million new homes in the last five years, yet 600,000 new builds have been delivered over the same period. There is a clear need for the Government to change its focus to assist developers in building these homes, and to come up with new models if the industry cannot deliver.
“We’re also pleased that Ministers have put to bed rumours about a weakening of Green Belt protections, and are prioritising brownfield development. This should take place alongside a strengthened focus on heritage and good design, and continued protections for nature and valued landscapes from insensitive development. Good planning is key to finding the best places for new homes, pushing up housing quality, and securing community support.
“We will, however, be looking carefully at the Government’s formula for calculating housing needs. It would be a backwards step if it forces councils to allocate land in sensitive landscapes, and doesn’t make the most of more appropriate sites for housing elsewhere in the region.”
Yesterday MPs voted in Parliament to allow fracking in National Parks.
Here is the response of the National Trust to this vote:
“The decision by MP’s to allow fracking to happen under National Parks does nothing to allay our real concerns about the impact of fracking on some of the most precious landscapes in the UK. The Trust stands by its call for the Government to rule out fracking in the most sensitive areas – protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks – and make them frack-free zones. There is a need to ensure that regulations offer sufficient protection to our treasured natural and historic environment.”
“There is an urgent need for more evidence about the impact of fracking on the hydrology, ecology and geology of landscapes. This is needed for informed decision-making about any future for fracking in the UK.”
Reacting to this exciting announcement Mike Innerdale, National Trust Assistant Director of Operations in the North Region, said: “Expanding the size of these two precious National Parks, loved by millions of people is great news.
“These treasured landscapes play such an important part in connecting people to beautiful places, rich in nature and wonderful human stories. The two new larger National Parks mean that we’ll be able to work more effectively with our partner organisations on a bigger scale to enrich the natural environment and create the space for wildlife and people to flourish.
View of two adult walkers returning from their farm trail on Low Sizergh Farm in Kendal, Cumbria. The path is on a route around the farm and estate.
“We especially welcome the recognition of the scenic, cultural and ecological qualities of the National Trust’s Sizergh Estate and the contribution that this special place will make to the newly expanded Lake District National Park in the future. Its a place enjoyed by walkers, nature lovers and people that are passionate about history”
National Trust sign for the Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire.
The Government is announcing today a bidding process for licenses on fracking – new rules will exclude World Heritage Sites, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from the round of licenses except in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Forty per cent of the land owned by the National Trust is in the National Parks of England and Wales and the conservation charity owns large areas of land in AONBs. Here is the Trust’s reaction to the announcement from Richard Hebditch, Assistant Director, External Affairs:
“It’s right that the Government has recognised the concerns about fracking in special places like national parks and AONBs. We welcome the new planning guidance which will makes clear that applications should be refused in these areas other than in exceptional circumstances.
“But it’s not just national parks and AONBs that could be at risk but other special places too, which is why we’d like to see this approach extended to nature reserves and other wildlife sites like Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) as well.
“This is a significant change in approach from DECC. We hope it will reflect a much more cautious approach that recognises the risks of turning some of the most special places in the country over to industrial scale extraction of shale gas and oil.”
In many places, the NPPF is not yet leading to plan-led development. Only 54% of Local Planning Authorities have a Local Plan, and the Local Plan adoption rate has slowed since the new Planning Framework was adopted.
Planning balances the interests of the nation as a community with those of individuals – and Local Plans should be at the heart of the planning system. Without a Local Plan, or with an out of date plan, it seems that communities are at risk from speculative development mainly due the five year land supply rules.
“We are pleased that the Government has acted on our concerns about Green Belt protection, and has altered the guidance to place greater emphasis on a brownfield first approach to development.
“Within this it is also important that local councils retain the tools they need to shape the provision of affordable housing in their communities, and the resources to provide local infrastructure. We will need to look at the detail of the guidance to make a full assessment of its impact.
“We will also be looking to ensure that National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our historic environment are protected from over development, and that this new guidance encourages communities to make the most of new powers to protect locally important green space.”