Campaigners fear the countryside might be at risk from planning reforms
4:36am UK, Tuesday March 27, 2012
Countryside campaigners who have been in a bitter dispute over reforms to the planning system get to see the Government’s long-awaited proposals later today.
The new draft of the National Planning Policy Framework is expected to cut down the current 1,000 pages of planning regulation to just 50.
The plans, which centre on a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, have been opposed amid fears they would lead to a return to urban sprawl.
At a time when rural pubs, shops and schools are closing at a worrying rate, a more simple but rigorous set of planning regulations could go a long way to reviving the struggling rural economy.
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner
Ahead of publication there were reports that up to 100,000 homes in the green belt near the new high speed line to Birmingham would be built.
“We are hoping to gain that clarity and we can start planning and we can start building.”
Mr Osborne said the final policy would protect England’s “most precious environments”, prompting fears areas outside green belt or national parks status will be at increased risk.
Some people living in areas of possible development under the new system are opposing the plans.
Some activists oppose the new high speed rail route to Birmingham
“What we are most worried about is that ordinary countryside, that isn’t green belt or areas of outstanding beauty is going to be really put at risk by these changes,” the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Helen Marshall said.
But others have sought to find a way to stem rural decline while maintaining regulatory oversight.
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said the first draft of the reforms had been too vague on giving power to communities, and hoped that the Government had listened to local concerns before the final reforms.
He added: “At a time when rural pubs, shops and schools are closing at a worrying rate, a more simple but rigorous set of planning regulations could go a long way to reviving the struggling rural economy.”