The Daily Telegraph are keeping up their campaign against the Government's planning proposals. They quote a briefing from the House of Commons Library to suggest the Green Belt would cease to be protected.
They quote the document saying "the implications of the presumption in favour of sustainable development are unclear."
But they don't quote the preceding two sentences. The full passage reads:
Green belt protection is retained, but simplified. In determining planning applications, planning authorities should give substantial weight to any harm to the Green Belt. However, the implications of the presumption in favour of sustainable development are unclear.
In the Government's proposals the definition of sustainable development includes using the planning system to "protect and enhance our natural, built and historic environment."
The Commons Library brief acknowledges there is clarity in the following summary comment:
The presumption is a new policy designed to ensure that the planning system as a whole focuses on opportunities. The presumption means that where local plans are not up-to-date, or not a clear basis for decisions, development should be allowed. But the development should not be allowed if it would undermine the key principles for sustainability in the Framework (such as protecting the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The presumption also means that where development is in line with the local plan, it should be allowed without delay.
So this is clearly the Government's policy. The protection for the Green Belt in the main draft document seemed pretty clear to me. But I can't see that putting wording from the summary version into the main document would be problem in avoiding any doubt.
Also on this subject I emailed the housing charity Shelter for their views on the Government's proposals.
Kay Boycott, director of campaigns, policy and communications at Shelter, said:
"The proposed planning changes are welcome as part of the solution to our chronic shortage of housing. The lack of decent and affordable homes is having a crippling effect on the lives of thousands of families across the country, and we must take this opportunity for proper reform so we can build the homes that people are crying out for without needless delay.
"However while changes to planning are a positive step in creating a 'nation of house builders', they alone will not solve our housing crisis. It's vital we tackle head-on all remaining barriers to affordable house building, in particular the chronic lack of investment."