National Trust warns on planning reform war

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Britain is facing “warfare” in communities around the country over development plans, the National Trust has warned, as councils fail to meet deadlines to implement planning reforms.

At least half of councils in England will miss a deadline at the end of this month to adopt a local plan showing where development can take place, according to research the trust helped to produce.

Under the government’s national planning framework, councils that miss the deadline will be subject to a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, said Sir Simon Jenkins, the trust’s chairman.

This would produce not more housing but more conflict, he said, adding that the trust was “pleading” with the government to extend the deadline for another year.

“If you start trying to build houses where local people don’t want them, they will fight,” he said.

“At the moment, anybody who knows anything about local Britain will know it’s a warfare area. Everywhere you go people are fighting random applications to develop.”

Planning policy is only one issue Sir Simon and Dame Helen Ghosh, the trust’s director-general, expect to be tackling this year.

Matters from marine conservation zones to the high-speed train line are also set to preoccupy the charity, along with what Sir Simon said were “very expensive” wind farms that “blot the landscape” in some areas and were “very intrusive forms of renewable energy”.

The National Trust was not against renewable energy in general, he said, nor wind turbines “in the right place”.

“We are concerned about anything that’s going to blight the beautiful landscape of England,” he said.

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