Dear xxx xxxxxxxxxx,
I am taking the very unusual step of writing to you to raise our grave concerns over the Government’s planning reforms and how they threaten the places that are special to people the length and breadth ofEngland.
The National Trust is a charity that exists to promote for the benefit of the nation the preservation of places of historic interest and natural beauty. This goes beyond the places we own. If the countryside or our heritage is under threat, we have a clear responsibility to stand up for it and the people who love it.
For decades the planning system has guided development to the places that need it. It has protected open countryside, prevented sprawl and safeguarded the historic character of our cities, towns and villages.
But now, through its draft National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) published in July, the Government wants to change the planning system into a tool to promote economic growth above all else. Let me stress that the National Trust does support the need for economic growth – just not at any cost.
We believe that these changes, which are supposedly in the public interest, come at far too high a price. They put at serious risk so much that we all love and treasure. Here are just two reasons why:
- The removal of much detailed guidance to local authorities leaves too much power in the hands of developers who will only need to show that their proposals will deliver growth for other important considerations (such as the impact on communities, nature and landscape) to be pushed aside.
- Local people will have to rely on local or neighbourhood development plans to protect what they treasure and shape where development should go. Only half of local authorities have such plans in place. Where there are no plans there will be a presumption that development will proceed, unless local people can find the resources and specialist knowledge to prove that it will cause significant harm. In practice, the dice are heavily loaded to favour development.
With these changes comes a huge risk to our countryside, historic environment and the precious local places that are so important for us all. The planning reforms could lead to unchecked and damaging development on a scale not seen since the 1930s.
Time is of the essence – these proposals are being consulted on right now (the deadline is 17th October). You personally can make a real difference by helping us ask Government to stop and think again.
You can express your views today by signing our petition, either online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/planning or at your nearest National Trust property.
From our website you can also find more information on the Government’s proposals and find out other ways that you can make your voice heard, including writing to your local MP or the Prime Minister.
I urge you to sign our petition now so that together we can send an urgent message to the Government – before it’s too late.
PS. The website again is www.nationaltrust.org.uk/planning