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Former poet laureate says Government will "wreck the countryside"

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: March 27, 2013

Sir Andrew Motion

Sir Andrew Motion

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Former poet laureate and rural guardian Sir Andrew Motion has warned said the Government’s planning reforms will “wreck the countryside”

Sir Andrew, who is president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), spoke out as the new regime comes into full force across England today.

He described the simplified national planning framework as “a builders charter” as it became clear that more than half of local councils stand to lose detailed control over planning decisions, at least in the short term.

The Western Morning News reported last month six local authorities across Devon and Cornwall were set to miss the deadline for adopting so-called “Local Plans” that dictate where development can take place.

Those that fail to do so will be subject to the Government’s planning blueprint, which says officials must say “yes” to building new houses, offices and power plants that are deemed “sustainable”.

Planning experts said many local authorities would overnight become more vulnerable to property developers making speculative applications. Cornwall and Torbay, East Devon, North Devon, Torridge and Teignbridge in Devon are without plans.

The CPRE and the National Trust have called on the government to extend the 12-month transition period for the planning upheaval beyond today, which Sir Andrew said was “proving to be groundbreaking in all the wrong ways”.

He said: “Developing greenfield sites unnecessarily and with inadequate local consultation is entirely the wrong way to make sure that we get the new homes the country so badly needs.”

The number of households is expected to grow by an average of 232,000 a year in the next two decades, but just 146,420 homes were built in the last financial year. Nick Boles, the Planning Minister, has accused councils of dragging their feet in allocating sites and last week told developers he wanted to “flush out” areas that did not offer up enough land.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said people already had “a bigger say on development than ever before through neighbourhood and local plans”.

“There very strong protections are in place to safeguard the green belt and protect other important areas, such as areas of outstanding natural beauty,” the spokesman said.

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