Slow to act councils leave door open to developer free-for-all

Peter Byrne/PA

To put it bluntly, unless your local council pulls its finger out pretty quickly and publishes a list of land available for development, any developer can move in and build what he likes where he likes in your area.

And that's not simply scaremongering, that's an admission from the government!

Under new reforms, every council should publish this list as part of their new planning guidelines but to date, only half have done so. Last year, a Tory MP, John Howell, who advises the planning minister Greg Clarke, told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference that it was fine if councils didn't want to produce planning guidelines for their areas but as long as they failed to do so they were leaving the door open for developers to come in and do what they liked.
Naturally, he's trying to backtrack on that admission right now, telling the Daily Telegraph that the National Planning Policy Framework protects the greenbelt.

Tesco superstore
Maybe so, but that still leaves a lot of land for another Tesco superstore or row after row of two-bedroom houses crammed into a forgotten corner of the borough that has no shops, schools or even a bus service.

Even if they do adopt the new reforms, including some helpful 'guidelines' from the government, the fact that they're being asked to make a presumption "in favour of sustainable development" actually means they have no real say anyway.

What organisations like the National Trust, English Heritage and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and now worried about is that developers will be given the green light to build across the countryside as part of a wider government plant to stimulate economic growth.

Maybe it's right that they're a bit nervous and I suspect that until the get some sort of definitive wording from the government for the planning guidelines they'll continue to be so.

And who can blame them?

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