Commenting on the government’s proposed changes to the planning system, Rick Hebditch, External Affairs Director at the National Trust, said:
“The planning system is not a barrier to a productive society, it is a key tool to help deliver one. We recognise the need to build more housing so we want to see every council with a local plan in place to deliver those homes. But local authorities have lost more than 40% of their planning team budgets in recent years so it will be hard for them to rise to this challenge while facing the threat of further sanctions with no offer of more support from central government.
“Local plans can also put local communities in the driving seat and facilitate good quality, well designed development in the right places. Today’s announcement on overriding councils and removing the planning approval process on brownfield land appears to do the opposite.
“The commitment to retain the Green Belt and prevent sprawl is, however, welcome.”
The National Trust today welcomed the Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss an appeal against a planning decision not to allow the building of six wind turbines in the setting of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire by Roseland Community Windfarm.
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (National Trust/Andrew Butler)
We are pleased that Government has listened to our recommendations and agreed in principle to rule out some of our most treasured natural and historic landscapes by promising to ban fracking in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Peter Nixon, National Trust Director for Land, Landscape and Nature, said: “Today’s announced plans by Government to ban fracking in sensitive areas represents a hugely important moment for the natural world and our wonderful landscapes.
“It would be a very dangerous gamble to expose these special places and wildlife that as a nation we love to a largely untested technology that only takes us further away from our climate change targets. We now need to continue to fight for strong regulation to protect our wider environment against the impacts of the shale gas industry.”
Read the Are we Fit to Frack? report, which we launched with Angling Trust, CPRE, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Association, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
and Wildlife Trusts, for more on our views.
The National Trust has joined forces with charities across the UK this week to call for the protection and celebration of Britain’s treasured landscapes.
With ongoing speculative development in and around sensitive areas, such as National Parks and AONBs, the group of 27 organisations believes that it is vital for future government policy and funding to reflect the extraordinary value of landscapes.
Common heather, Bell heather and Western gorse lining the coastal path on the Great Hangman with the Little Hangman, Devon. National Trust Images/David Noton
Reacting to the publication today (16 December 2014) of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on the operation of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF), Richard Hebditch, assistant director of external affairs at the National Trust, said: “The National Trust welcomes the findings of this cross-party report. The Government needs to tackle loopholes in the NPPF which mean it is too open to challenge from ‘streetwise’ developers.
“The Committee’s findings are the latest in a growing body of evidence that the NPPF is allowing developers to ignore the local communities it said would be at the very heart of its new approach. New National Trust research shows that even where a council has a local plan in place, these are being challenged by developers.
“The Government’s planning rules need revising so that they put people and places first.”
The National Trust is a non-political, independent charity which exists to look after some of the country’s most treasured countryside for the benefit of the nation. It does not take a party political position on planning or any other issue.
Click here to read our latest views on the current planning system.
“We welcome that Sir Michael Lyons’ review does not propose a further shake up of national planning policies, and recognises that many of the problems with undersupply of housing lie with the market rather than failures of the planning system.
“We agree that the nation needs more homes, and will look carefully at proposals for housing growth areas and garden cities and suburbs. It is critical that we choose the right places to put new housing, and involve communities through the local planning process to get genuinely sustainable development.
“We hope that Labour focuses on Sir Michael’s proposals to support the plan-led system rather than policies to take planning powers away from local councils.”