Government planning reforms might endanger the heritage sites
November 29, 2011 Leave a comment
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fears, that government planning reforms might endanger World Heritage Sites, Greenfield land and irreplaceable archaeology. This includes Georgian Bath, Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast from East Dorset into East Devon. The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework is supposed to stimulate economic growth by trying to simplify and organise the planning system.
Twenty-seven representative samples of local authority responses to the public consultation on the draft of NPPF were analysed by CPRE. The outcome was that most of the local authorities, regardless of political affiliation, were very critical and concerned about the proposed changes, especially the definition of sustainable development (twenty-six authorities mentioned that problem). Insufficient focus on reusing brown-field land and the need for appropriate transitional arrangements to make the shift to the new system effective and smooth were also issues expressed by the surveyed authorities. According to them some parts of the draft should be clarified and specified in order to protect the World Heritage sites.
Bath & North East Somerset emphasize that some of the proposed reforms may result in inappropriate development of places by accident and forced the councils to explain the expenses that they would need.
One of the planned reforms is to provide 20% extra housing but councils fear that there is not enough space for this target to be achieved. For Bath & North East Somerset, the only way this quota would be met is if houses were built on Green-field sites. However, officials say that the World Heritage Sites should be protected. The NPPF highlights that any development putting any green site, like the Birds and Habitats Directive, under any threat would not be sustainable
Kate Houghton, planning officer at CPRE, said: “Our analysis demonstrates that the Government cannot afford to push through their reforms without taking account of these widely held concerns. Changes need to be made to the planning system, but if we don’t get them right we risk causing long term damage to both our urban and rural landscapes.” She also said: “We hope that the final framework will offer clear policies which properly integrate economic, environmental and social objectives. Only this will allow planning to fulfill its important role in facilitating genuinely sustainable development.”
Photo: flickr / Colin-47