"Planning is for people not profit," declares the National Trust like some demented Marxist agitprop outfit. Of course planning must allow property developers to make a profit. That doesn't mean that the planning schemes have to be ugly or that heritage sites have to be destroyed. But for the National Trust, who do a lot of good work, to be adopting a mindless anti profit sloganising stance is to regrettable. It is also hypocritical. They get £25 million a year from the profits of their Historic House Hotels Ltd and the National Trust (Enterprises) Ltd – which includes their shops and so on.
Their annual report also shows they get around £20 million from the taxpayer in the form of grants from various Quangos and Government Departments. They are now using some of that money to lobby against the Government proposed streamlining of the planning system.
Not only that but they are doing so in a thoroughly misleading way saying it will lead to unchecked and damaging development.
The DCLG has issued the following response:
"This is plain wrong. The draft policy framework fulfils the commitment in the coalition agreement to protect the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are similarly strong protections for the historic environment, which have been welcomed by heritage bodies. These protections are crystal clear in the document.
"In fact the policy framework gives communities a brand new opportunity to protect those green spaces outside of the Green Belt that are of particular special value to the community.
"There is a strict test that all new growth must be sustainable. Where it is consistent with environmental objectives – including maintaining the Green Belt – proposals should proceed without delay.
"These reforms allow local people to participate in planning. Having 1,000 pages of planning policy made policy less clear and excluded communities."
National planning policy, which is the basis for every local plan and decision, has accumulated to over one thousand pages during the last decade. Its volume and complexity have made planning increasingly inaccessible to all but specialists.
The Government in the Coalition Agreement committed to turning this thicket of national planning policy into a clear, tightly focused document, setting out national priorities and rules.
Ministers are inviting views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework – which streamlines national policy from over 1,000 pages to just 52 pages of policy – as part of a consultation to get the planning system right for current and future generations. The draft Framework draws on responses to an initial call for evidence earlier in the year. The Government intends to consult on simplifying other guidance on national policy as the next step.
Underpinning the draft Framework are powerful protections for communities to safeguard the natural and historic environment. It maintains the Government's commitment to protecting the green belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; facilitates a new generation of renewable energy projects; paves the way for green transport of the future – the electric car – by encouraging decision makers to provide charging points; re-affirms protections for our nation's historic and cultural heritage, and for our wildlife and bio-diversity, including new protection for peat bogs; and helps tackle the light pollution affecting the beauty of the night sky.