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In the times of a worrying economy, local councils look increasingly to reclaiming abandoned spaces. But are all brown field sites suitable for redevelopment?

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Regeneration Britain

lanning minister Greg Clark said the changes in England were "absolutely crucial" but he also agreed to talk to opponents of the proposals. He said "particular aspects" could be addressed if groups such as the National Trust felt they were unclear. Shadow communities minister Jack Dromey said he welcomed the government's willingness to talk. Mr Clark said the government would not back down on its aim to boost house-building and encourage business. The plan, published in July, streamlines policy that is currently more than 1,000 pages down to just 52 and features a presumption of “sustainable development”.

‘Good for business’

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it intends to transform a system whose “volume and complexity have made planning increasingly inaccessible to all but specialists”.

But the National Trust said the plans “failed to protect the everyday places that local communities love” while the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the government needed “to listen and make further improvements or the consequences for the English countryside and the character of our towns and villages will be grave”.


Mr Clark Mr Clark also criticised the National Trust for using pictures of Los Angeles in its campaign against the plans. He said that such large-scale urban sprawl was “not going to happen here” and reiterated the government’s commitment to protect the green belt, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Councils would also have more responsibility under the new regime - which would mean better planning decisions, argued Mr Clark.

Mr Clark told the BBC it was “absolutely crucial” for the government to simplify planning processes so that homes could be built and to encourage business. “We’re building fewer homes than can accommodate young people that need to be housed, we’ve got a problem of homelessness, overcrowding, poverty as rents rise. “For companies expanding or relocating they need a new building and it’s crucial that when they’re thinking of Britain as a place to relocate they know they won’t have to wait years with vast expense and uncertainty.” The housing minister denied there would be any backtracking on the plans, despite his agreement to hold

talks. He said it was “quite right” to consult because of the extent of the changes, and invited opponents to be very specific about any concerns. “Let’s be forensic about this - if there are particular aspects or sentences that you don’t think express clearlyenough the protections that are there, then let’s talk about it.

“Labour is in favour of sustainable development - but what the Tory-led government are offering is a downgrading of the rules which protect our natural environment.”

Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, rejected Mr Clark’s assurances and said the proposals would give too much say to developers. Mr Clark also criticised the National Trust for using pictures of Los Angeles in its campaign against the plans.


He said that such large-scale urban sprawl was “not going to happen here” He said that such large-scale urban sprawl was “not going to happen here” and reiterated the government’s commitment to protect the green belt, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

rejected Mr Clark’s assurances and said the proposals would give too much say to developers.

development. It’s about prosperity over people and places.” Peter Nixon, the National Trust’s director of conserva“What the government is talking tion, welcomed Mr Clark’s about is a presumption in favour invitation to hold talks but of sustainable development, but also criticised the changes. if you read the National PlanCouncils would also have ning Policy Framework in its He told the Times newspaper more responsibility under the draft form, what is clear is that that the government had the new regime - which would is a presumption in favour of de- right “aspirations” but the promean better planning de- velopment, and at every point posals currently did not allow cisions, argued Mr Clark. sustainability is undermined. planning authorities to make decisions in a “balanced way”. Shaun Spiers, the chief execu- “What they’re really talking about tive of the Campaign for the is a policy of ‘build, build, build’. Protection of Rural England, This is about economic

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