Critics can get behind new planning rules, says Eric Pickles


Greg Clark: "It's very hard for people to engage with the planning system"

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Business and conservationists should be able to "unite behind" revised planning rules for England, say ministers.

The guidelines, which have been amended after arguments about their effect on the countryside, include encouraging development on brownfield sites.

They say a "presumption in favour of sustainable development" should be a key theme in planning decisions.

Conservation groups welcomed some of the changes but said they would wait to see how they worked in practice.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told the BBC ministers had listened to concerns and had "strengthened" proposals "around the basic principles of sustainable development" - making a good case for the economy, the environment and social policy.

'Golden thread'

He added: "I think this is something that, whether you are in business or whether you are in a green group, you should be able to get behind."

Start Quote

Far from giving us certainty, there is likely to be delay as developments are held up by appeals and by the courts having to rule on a new and untested approach”

End Quote Hilary Benn Labour

Draft proposals, published last year, were opposed by groups including the National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth, amid criticism that they amounted to a "developers' charter".

The new framework includes specific references to encouraging development on brownfield sites - a phrase that had been missing from the draft version - to "offer reassurance".

It also offers "five guiding principles" of sustainable development, listed as: living within the planet's means; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.

The framework says the presumption towards sustainable development should be "seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking".

But the government said policies such as those protecting the Green Belt, sites of special scientific interest, national parks and other areas could not "be overridden by the presumption".

'Sorely needed'

The framework also allowed councils to protect back gardens, while ensuring that "playing fields continued to benefit from the same protection that they do currently", planning minister Greg Clark said.

The government says planning reform is "sorely needed" as regulations have become too complex and are holding back economic growth. The new framework condenses 1,300 pages to fewer than 100.

The revised national planning policy framework will guide councils in both drawing up their "local plans", which set out their development policies. Planning inspectors must take it into account when judging applications.

Councils without an existing local plan will start to use it immediately. Those which have a plan already will have a year to bring it into line with the framework.

For Labour, shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn welcomed a "U-turn on playing fields and open spaces" but said there should be a national, not local, "brownfield-first" policy.


He said the planning system should produce homes and jobs, as well as protecting green spaces, but the new plans "may end up doing neither".

"Far from giving us certainty, there is likely to be delay as developments are held up by appeals and by the courts having to rule on a new and untested approach," Mr Benn said, adding that this would lead to "uncertainty and chaos".

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI business group, said the government had "kept its nerve" in retaining the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which amounted "not growth at any cost but, equally, not a plan to oppose growth".

Neil Sinden, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that, "on the face of it, it looks as though the government has listened and responded to the huge public concern that was expressed". But he said the detail must be right to ensure that it could be used by local authorities to defend "the right kind of development in the right place at public inquiries".

National Trust director-general Dame Fiona Reynolds said changes to the framework would "improve the document and give it a better tone and balance", but added she would "watch to see how it works in practice".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    These changes are designed (and perhaps partly written by the Downing Street diners) to serve the interests of big business. They do not serve the preservation of the countryside or serve the citizens of the country. Conservatives should be more sensitive about the idea to conserve!

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    Another elephant in the room. Too many households as well as too many people, the result of years of underwriting familey breakdown. Plus they have pledged to cut immigration to a level that wont need any expansion in housing provision other than that delivered by the natural effects of an aging population. That's without them forcing the elderly to put their homes up for sale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    @661 Tio Terry

    There will always be rental market. We just don't want it so strong. People without a deposit can't buy homes so rents are increasing and these people can't save for a deposit and become trapped.

    Alot of people are making money out of other peoples misery.

    Increase stamp duty for second-homers/BTL investors? Council tax to be paid by house owners rather than tennants?

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    600. Violet Mildred

    Planners have been frustrating development for years, with their petty minded rules and regulations
    Quite....high time we deregulated so they can knock up any old crap and still get away with charging 200k for it...public servants are a one ever considers the lobbyists do they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    sustainable development ??
    Rubbish no such thing
    Too many people in Britain shut the gates and encourage repatriation.
    the only development there should be is more grass and woodland

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    second homes should be occupied most of the year.In some Cornish villages, whole streets are dark at night because they are full of second homes. Council tax should be doubled for these homes because they do nothing to make the towns and villages attractive. That might make homes available for local people.

  • Comment number 666.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    "Open your wallet and repeat after me"Help yourself".Thank you".
    Now tell me the policy you want.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    Oh goody - green light for 10ft wide cardboard properties with a postage stamp lawn and absurdly small driveway that results in a mini blocking the toy pavement - don't want to block the single width 2 way 'street' do we? All this for just 200k and you get 17 really close neighbours ( a sort of mini Big Society almost)...someone's paid their 250k meeting fees errr 'donations' haven't they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    if the government stopped handing out benefit after benefit to young mothers just to have baby after baby and letting in anyone who wants to come here then we would not need more houses and this new ruling would not be needed.wake up government....britain is FULL

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.


    "...but Mr Pickles knows best! And he overturned the decision..."


    What? A Yorkshireman who thinks he's right? Whatever next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.


    Force to make BTL's to sell? Who will provide the rental market after that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    The houses Cameron wants to build are to be £176 thousand very badly done nowadays, tiny rooms etc. Yet there are many houses on the market [inc my sons] at £105 thou, its very well built, lots amenities, yet !st time buyers cant afford it so how can they afford one at £70 thou more? These ministers need to take their blinkers of, come out into the real world to see all the empty places.

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    652.Merkin Muffley

    "...took 6 months to get them to agree that cement replicas, made from a cast of original slates would be acceptable..."


    Oh well done.

    They use those round here too: they are always obvious as there are only a few repeated moulds, and weather wrongly etc.

    I'm sure the building trade were delighted though: they'll be replacing them after a few frosts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    I have just started a campaign to protect green belt from being built upon in our village where there is a brownfield site which could be used first. Am really concerned that changes to the planning rules and the government targets will result in confusion and encourage ill thought through panic growth of new areas without proper consultation or consideration as to its impact.Not a happy bunny!

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    . . . Terminal 5 was in planning for 4 years and took 6 years to complete. . . the Chinese constructed the whole of Chep Lak Kok, the replacement for Hong Kong, Kai Tak in 6 years . . . we don't know how many labourers died during construction or how many protesters were shot dead, but we really need to get this infrastructure business into perspective . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    Nice one Eric, a Tikka for you down the Rajpoot my son.
    But I suspect its build where you want just not in Brentwood and Ongar cos the only way isn't Essex.

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    Tories only recognise 3 types of land:
    Land for pheasant shooting and hunting
    Land for gentlemen farmers
    Land to be concreted over by developers for profit
    They are not keen on school fields, forests, parks, footpaths, ramblers, greens and public access land

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    @652 Merkin Muffley

    I say, how frightful! I agree with the planners. The priority is making sure your development was in keeping with the surroundings. If that meant extra work and costs for you then tough. I bet you still made a tidy profit out of it.

  • Comment number 653.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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