In an interview (£) for The Times this morning the Planning Minister Greg Clark urges the National Trust to "get specific" and to "make positive suggestions." But the Government have made clear that the thrust of their policy will remain unchanged. It is to simplify the planning process to encourage growth. The Government have however stressed that development must be sustainable.
For their part the National Trust say they are not "anti development." They certainly don't seem to be when it comes to lucrative schemes on their own land. The Times pictures the (ugly) Stramford Brook housing scheme in Altrincham in Cheshire. They also report schemes in Buckinghamshire and North Wales where the National Trust "rode roughshod" over local opinion to push through development.
The YouGov poll in the Sunday Times had some mixed results for the Government planning policies.
It included the following:
The National Trust have claimed that the government's plans will give too much freedom to developers and lead to inappropriate building in the countryside. The government have accused them of scaremongering, and claimed that their plans will still protect countryside that is part of the green belt and national parks.
Which of the following best reflects your view?
The National Trust are exaggerating the impact of the planning changes, and they probably do not pose a risk to the countryside
The National Trust are not exaggerating the impact of the changes, and they will probably pose a serious risk to the countryside
25% said the National Trust were exaggerating. 44% said they were not.
However here was another question:
The government are proposing changes to the planning system in England. Under the changes the amount of cental government rules on planning will be vastly decreased, with local councils given more powers to decide what is allowed to be built in their areas. There will be a presumption in favour of giving permission for development if it is sustainable and in line with local policies.
Do you support or oppose these changes?
Support was at 54%. They oppose came to 21%.
So what it amounts to is that the Government policy, when spelt out, has strong support. The tendency to agree with the National Trust reflects their positive "brand." But the National Trust, in engaging in hypocritical anti profit rhetoric, risk doing rather more damage to their own reputation than to the Government. A warning to them is the decline in credibility of the Police Federation.
The National Trust seemed to be squandering their political capital while making generalised rather than tangible objections.