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Planning relaxation laws 'could destroy village greens'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 30, 2012

Planning relaxation laws 'could destroy village greens'

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A Government attempt to loosen planning rules in order to encourage economic growth will seriously damage the key protections for cherished areas of countryside, conservationists claim.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says the Growth and Infrastructure Bill is a "below the radar attack" on level-headed planning.

Campaigners for open spaces say the "nasty" plans run counter to the Coalition's stated intention to devolve power to communities and will lead to the destruction of much-loved village greens.

Supporters argue the Bill, which is due to receive its second reading in Parliament soon, aims to close loopholes used by protesters who launch "spurious" applications as a delaying tactic to thwart necessary development.

John Hoad, the CPRE's head of planning, said "disingenuous" rhetoric about red tape holding up economic growth was "a diversion from the real issue – lack of funding for development".

"The Bill is a poor recipe for delivering either growth or infrastructure," he added.

"With environment given such a low priority, we will see schemes for business, housing and roads on green fields rushed through by cowed councils, and a rash of broadband clutter in our best landscapes and villages."

The Government has already reduced planning policy from 1,000 pages to around 50 by introducing, then amending after a public outcry, its National Planning Policy Framework.

Separately, a fresh attempt, led by former North Cornwall Liberal Democrat MP and now Lord Matthew Taylor, has also been unveiled to cut planning guidance from 6,000 pages to as few as 1,200 pages.

The review, will be carried out in just six weeks, and is not open to public consultation.

Opponents fear that protections face a double assault – with local authorities no longer forced to ask the permission of ministers before building on the green belt.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and president of the Ramblers, said the existing right to register a village green would be removed once an area of land was identified for development, if the Bill were to become law.

She said campaigns, such as the one to register Sugary Green, near Castle Cove, in Dartmouth, as a village green under the Commons Act of 2006, thereby banning development will be impossible.

"It is ridiculous and is going to kill off all the genuine applications as well as the vexatious ones," she added.

The Country Land and Business Association, who lobbied for the changes, said tactical moves to block schemes under "spurious" applications "needed sorting out".

"We don't think the green belt will be lost forever," a spokesman said.

"It is part of the solution and will free up enterprise and economic activity – without this towns become a series of dormitories."

The Bill is on a fast track to become law by early 2013.

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  October 31 2012, 9:12PM

    barumbcfc "open to abuse from every left wing fruitcase" What are you on about, many who seek to block development by using the existing legislation are as blue as Maggot Thatcher. I suggest you lose that lump of granite you're carrying around. The planning system already favours large developers and the local planners are at best inept at protecting the countryside or even making a pretence of minimising the impact on existing residents. Maybe that's why they content themselves with making life difficult for individuals. If you've ever sat in a planning meeting, you'd understand.

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  • josdave  |  October 31 2012, 3:33PM

    The new plans give free rein to the developers to ride roughshod over public opinion and will spoil many areas. There are thousands of brown field sites crying out for development but Oh no they have to build on green field sites. As has been said there is a demand for the farms to be more productive while at the same time permission is being handed out willy nilly to any developer that asks. The biggest culprits are the supermarkets, with collusion from the councils who then bemoan the the demise of the town centres, who are taking over the country.

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  • Stork  |  October 31 2012, 12:28PM

    dee_2 Why was the Town And Country Planning Act brought into operation in 1947 ? What was the reason ? There was no great increase in the UK's population, after all, thousands and thousands of people had been killed in the Second World War. There were acres and acres of bomb sites available for housing, across most of the UK, especially in the big cities. So why introduce an Act controlling house building, when house builders were concerned in rebuilding houses that had been destroyed by bombing ? Might the reason be that there was a new Labour Government, whose clerks wanted State control of almost anything and everything. I started off in the construction industry in 1963. Almost every year thereafter. The building industry has complained to Governments of all colours, that there are not enough homes in the UK. The single family has exploded, we have I don't know how many immigrants in the UK, who have to live somewhere. And our annual housebuilding figures continue to decline. When I started off, building land was acknowledged to cost "about" no more than 20% of the final cost of the finished house. Nowadays, the cost of building land costs "about" 50%+. That's why there are no cheap houses anymore. It's supply and demand. I don't know if you have any children, but unless you are able to give them a very large deposit to buy their home, there is a very good chance they will never own their own home. Finally, for all those people who say they don't want the country concreted over. The last figures I saw were that housing took up 8% of the total UK landmass. Take a flight over the Soputh West in a light aircraft, there's still an awful lot of green.

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  • nick113  |  October 31 2012, 10:39AM

    @D-Head: do you really think the Planning Rules should need 6,000 pages? The system is wildly over-grown and needs radical simplification.

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  • Kernowprotect  |  October 30 2012, 9:24PM

    Developers invest heavily in the Tory Party - they are major financial backers. The changes to planning law ( NPPF) and now the latest proposals about village greens are a payback for their investment. Labour loathed the countryside but so now do the Tories. The shire vote is traditionally Conservative and Cameron believes he can do as he wishes and that we will still voote Conservative in 2015. Whether its major housing developments in AONBs or wind turbines carpetting the West Country - that's OK by Dave. Anything anywhere in the name of 'recovery'. But Tory led Cornwall Council will discover that their core support evaporates in 2013 and The Conservatives will find the same in 2015

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  • barumbcfc  |  October 30 2012, 7:50PM

    About time this law was amended,it is open to abuse from every left wing fruitcase who takes its fancy !!! Take the case of Bristol city fc.the owner bought a parcel of land which use to be the municipal rubbish tip.its a couple hundred yards from Ashton gate and planning was put in for a new ground.with an adjacent indoor concert hall ranking in the top 6 halls in the country.one would think a boon for Bristol and the south west added to which the council was broadly in favour. What happened next ? Yea you guessed it,the fruitcase (nimby,s) put in an application for village green status,quiet how you could call a derelict parcel land near Ashton gate a "village green" beggars belief,but then the goverment inspectors had to get involved.4 years down the line and its still grinding on. This aspect of planning law is in urgent need of reform and being a city fan the sooner the better. Congrats to Exeter chiefs and Exeter city council on showing the way it should be done

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  • robocop1982  |  October 30 2012, 6:57PM

    Even if they do build new buildings on green spaces you can always demolish those buildings at a later point and bring back some earth and plant new grass and trees. for a change it would be nice to see old building demolished and have earth reintroduced and new grass and trees introduced.

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  • dee_2  |  October 30 2012, 6:00PM

    Stork - the Town & Country Planning Act was introduced to bring built development under control after the war. Until then it hadn't been needed because most villages had remained the same size for centuries and, to use that modern word, were 'sustainable'. Already rural employment on the land was falling as farms gave up horses for tractors. Then the motor car changed everything. That is why, and the point has already been made, expanding villages into open countryside will not bring back the village shop, the pub, the post office. It will mean more cars driving to the nearest town for work. It will mean more people driving to the nearest supermarket for their food. Only when fuel costs become unaffordable and the use of the car much reduced will we begin to see, perhaps, some life returning to the villages.

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  • Phil_lip  |  October 30 2012, 12:45PM

    Sorry should have added that they each pay £1 to purchase it. It will of course mean that the village becomes responsible for the upkeep of the land and not the council though.

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  • Phil_lip  |  October 30 2012, 12:43PM

    It is easy to solve the loss of a village green, write up ownership contracts for each house (not family name but house name/number) in the village, then divide the green up into that number of houses, mix up the lot numbers and get each house owner to sign that that lot is tied to their house. That way no sections can be put together as it is randomly mixed up around the whole village and no developer can get their hands on the green because it is part owned by every household and not the council, simples!

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