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Planning Expert Casts Doubt Over NT’s ‘Free For All’ Claims

Charity's Director-General Raises Concerns Over Reform


The National Trust’s concern that reforms of the planning system could lead to ‘free-for-alls’ may not necessarily come true, a planning expert at Irwin Mitchell has suggested.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the charity’s director-general Dame Fiona Reynolds issued a warning that a ‘quick fix’ solution in the current economic downturn may not have the desired long-term impact that many would hope.

She also suggested that the government was using the current financial crisis as a “smokescreen” and called for a plan which ensures new properties are built in a manner which offers a “more sustainable future”.

Oliver Martin, a Partner and specialist in planning issues at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said there are questions to be asked over the proposed planning framework, but added that the impact may not be as serious as suggested by Dame Fiona Reynolds.

He explained: “I suspect that the wording of the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will probably be tightened up in certain sections in order to provide clearer protection for the countryside, which may deal with many of the concerns raised by the National Trust.

“One of the important questions is whether the government is going to seek to define sustainable development in the NPPF.

“There is likely to be a tendency for ‘planning by appeal’ as developers seek to test the meaning of the principles set out in the NPPF where there is no up to date local plan in place. However, this will not necessarily lead to the ‘free for all’ predicted here."