THE Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says green belt land could be threatened by the government’s proposed changes to the planning system.
CPRE Oxon says the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes councils allocate 20 per cent more land than is needed for housing, weakens green belt policy, and includes a default ‘yes’ to development.
Helen Marshall, director of CPRE Oxon, said: “This shift towards development at all costs threatens to undermine everything CPRE has worked for in the county over the last 80 years.
“The language used is all about economic growth with no account taken of protecting the environment for future generations.
“The current system certainly has its flaws, but it can’t just be made the scapegoat for all our economic problems.”
But Bicester MP Tony Baldry said there had been a great deal of misinformation about the policy proposals, and said the NPPF would give residents more influence over the planning process.
“The present planning system has very little opportunity for residents to influence the nature of local development and I think this has understandably resulted in a sense of disempowerment.
“The government is committed to decentralising power to local people and quite rightly making the planning process much more accessible.
He said the existing 1,000-page planning guide would be condensed to a 52-page policy framework.
He added the new NPPF protected environmental assets such as the green belt, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest, as well as supporting wildlife, biodiversity, cultural heritage and light pollution.
The public consultation on the NPPF will end on October 17. Details are available from the Department for Communities and Local Government on 0303 4440000 or on the department’s website