Reading the Times over the weekend, I remembered why I don’t read newspapers as much as I used to – talk about bringing stress and unease to a Sunday morning!

It was particularly stressful because this weekend saw a co-ordinated attack on the National Planning Policy Framework (see here for more on the NPPF). If I give you the headlines, you’ll get a sense of the hysteria that ‘middle England’ is experiencing over the new planning laws. “Throwing the Countryside to the Developer Wolves’ was one; the other, presumably in the context of last week’s riots, was the equally wholesome: “Stop the Real Vandals Ruining our Towns’.

Makes the blood boil, doesn’t it? The latter piece, by the well-known comedian Griff Rhys Jones, went on to say “If we introduce a presumption in favour of development, effectively we are saying ‘Build on the lot.’ Develop until we all sit on quarter-acre plots, live in Auckland, New Zealand (an endless tacky suburb). Build until we have houses in every field.”

He continues to claim that the development will mean Leytonstone reaches Chelmsford. The writer of the other piece claims, rather excitedly, “Builders want to link Gloucester to Cheltenham and Cheltenham to Worcester in a giant megalopolis.”

As someone who would probably end up in this giant megalopolis, I’ll believe it when I see it.

These two articles, I suspect, are only the tip of the iceberg of a media hysteria about how the shake-up in planning laws will impact on the country. They are, of course, completely wide of the mark, but play right into the hands of the people who I suspect are behind them – the protect-my-pile preservationists who want all new homes to be tiny, urban flats when they, of course, live in presumably ample piles. Their attitude is the problem – not the planning changes they seek to stop.

  • Anonymous

    The UK consists of 62 million acres of land.

    There are 60 million people.

    The UK is currently 5% urbanized.

    Population densities: (per sq mile)
    UK 660
    Japan 873
    Netherlands 1041
    Hong Kong 16444

    Most of the water works in London are Victorian era. The M25 is called the biggest parking lot in Europe. 0.6 percent of the population of the UK own 50% of all the rural land in the UK.

    Your "green and pleasant land" is in no danger. And we badly need some investment in our urban areas if we are to compete in the new century.

  • G. DAWES

    I applied to build a four room cottage in my back garden to retire into with my wife, It was 10X5.5 and 7.5 high. This was all we needed but the planning officer a young woman of about 25 said SHE didnt like it because it was overbearing over-shadowing and ruined the street scene, The fact that it was behind trees and could be seen from anywhere and completely secluded didn’t matter. I went to appeal but it coincided with the change in Government and therefore got caught out be the GARDEN GRABBING rule change, he said it was a viable site and fully able to contain my cottage, he couldn’t allow it because of the change and that I must reapply, however they will now refuse using that clause as reason. Planning rules are too subjective on the view of officers and never get near the planning committee as they delegate powers too much.
    1400 new house are being approved nearby on virgin farmland as that is in the policy for the area, but not my little cottage.??????

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