CLA welcomes Chancellor’s support for planning reform in ‘mixed Budget’

08 October 2013

The CLA today (21 March) welcomed the Chancellor's announcement in his Budget speech that the final National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will refocus planning policy to support growth in rural areas including a "presumption in favour of sustainable development".

CLA President Harry Cotterell praised Mr Osborne for making it clear the Government is not giving in to campaigners who want vital proposed planning reforms watered down in the final version of the NPPF, to be published next Tuesday.

Mr Cotterell said: "It is excellent news the Government has resisted calls from organisations that campaigned so vigorously to have the vital 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' ripped out of the NPPF. This element of reform is absolutely essential for the planning system to work effectively.

"We await with caution the full details of the NPPF. However, we are encouraged by Mr Osborne's confirmation that planning guidance will be cut from more than 1,000 pages to around 50 and his assertion that 'you can't earn your future, if you can't get planning permission'."

The CLA President was pleased the NPPF is to be "more focussed and inherently pro-growth" and that the presumption in favour of sustainable development will be "powerful" so that "the default answer to development is 'yes'."

He also said it was good news that the Budget notes had revealed that the Government is going to reduce the cost, complexity and delay to businesses that the Habitats Directive can currently cause.

Mr Cotterell said: "We hope when the full details are published that bats and newts will no longer be the bane of a landowner's life."

The CLA also welcomed the Chancellor's pledge to have mobile phone coverage provided to 60,000 rural homes which currently lack reception.

However, the CLA President said that overall the Budget was "mixed" with fast broadband for rural communities ignored completely.

Mr Cotterell said: "We are concerned that the additional £50million for superfast broadband is going to 10 so-called 'smaller super-connected cities' rather than rural areas where, clearly, the need is greater. We need clarification on whether this money has been taken from investment previously promised for broadband in the countryside."

He also attacked the removal of zero percent VAT for alteration work on listed buildings without reducing the rate for works of repairs.

Mr Cotterell said: "If the Chancellor seriously wanted to encourage the maintenance of our national heritage he would have reduced the rate on works of repair to five percent at the same time as was advocated by the Cut the VAT campaign of which the CLA is a part." 

And he said that the Chancellor had failed to stop the proposed rise in fuel duty which hits people in rural areas much harder than those in towns and cities.

The CLA President added: "This is unfair to people in rural communities who need their cars far more than people in urban areas."