The balance between economic development and environmental conservation is one that has always been difficult to maintain, and never more so than now, with the government trying every means to support and strengthen the UK’s dicey economy. Part of the programme includes the construction of business parks and the residential development that goes with them, or vice versa.
In the many voices being raised over the issues that arise, one of the foremost is the National Trust, now urging citizens to sign a petition to re-configure the national planning policy. It will be presented to the Ministers on or before 17 October, and you can sign up at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/planning. According to the National Trust’s director general, Dame Fiona Reynolds, more and more people believe the policy needs to be re-thought.
It’s a case of the environmentalists being, in many instances, too far ahead of public opinion, with big developers and most politicians being too far behind. Theoretically, local planning commissions are to have the final say-so in what kind and how much new development is right for their communities. In fact, the current policy leans much farther towards the developers than the ones battling to retain historical sites and green environments.
The National Trust says that more than 100,000 concerned citizens have signed their policy-change petition, and now they are calling on the citizens of Sussex and surrounding areas to sign the petition and save the Sussex countryside. Planned ‘reforms’ to the planning system would give developers the go-ahead for building on many greenfield sites on the edges of the South Downs National Park as well as other cherished scenic sites.
Overall, NT and many others are asking the Coalition Government to change the default policy that allows developers to proceed undeterred unless local planning commissions have a specific plan of their own in place, and to ensure that those local commissioners have the resources and sufficient time to do so.