Planning Bill could bulldoze Environment Bill, warns CPRE

11th May 2021

As is the tradition, the UK government spelled out its agenda for the year and parliamentary term ahead in the Queen’s Speech at the official Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 11 May. Of particular interest to all at CPRE was the announcement of the government’s proposed planning reforms.

We’ve been calling on the government to make changes to their proposed planning legislation in an ongoing effort to encourage greater protections to, for example, our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and more sensible, community-led, affordable and sustainable building of housing.

The current proposed legislation threatens to create a low-regulation planning regime, and is virtually incompatible with the government’s targets for moving to a greener and healthier economy and country, as spelled out in their Environment Bill.

Reacting to the Queen’s Speech, Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘The Planning Bill looks set to prioritise developers’ needs over local communities, provide no new environmental safeguards and could slow the delivery of genuinely affordable homes in many areas. All in all, it risks creating a free for all for development. We know from painful experience that without the right checks and balances in the planning process, developments can lead to a huge and unnecessary loss of countryside while doing nothing to tackle the affordable housing crisis or level up.

‘That’s why we urgently need more joined up thinking from the government if we are to address the nature and climate emergencies. On the one hand, we’ve got the Environmental Bill being touted as world beating legislation to leave nature in a better state than we found it over the next 25 years. On the other hand, we have a Planning Bill that looks set to take us back to a deregulated dark age of development.

‘The government must urgently rethink the Planning Bill. If not, we’re facing an open season for developers on large parts of the countryside, and a fatal weakening of local communities right to be heard on the future of their area.’

Want to help us fight for community-led planning and development that respects the natural world? Then head here and become a member of CPRE.

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