National Trust Misrepresented Government Policy Reforms
The National Trust has been accused of willingly misrepresenting the proposed law changes by the Coalition Government through its campaign opposed to policy reforms. Planning Minister Greg Clark says claims that parts of the Green Belt will be threatened are ridiculous. He also called people greedy for trying to ‘preserve in aspic’ their towns.
This follows the National Trust saying it’s seriously concerned about the outline published last month by the National Planning Policy Framework. Dame Fiona Reynolds, the director-general, says the modifications could lead to damaging and unchecked development in undesignated countryside on a level not experienced since the ’30s. She argued that the changes focus on stimulating economic growth too much, as this will mean more developments will be approved.
Clark says the concern is unfounded and that the government’s position has been misled by the charity. The National Trust’s campaign seems to focus on the Green Belt being lost, but there isn’t anything in the policy that would mean a significant loss of the area. The Green Belt, national parks and other special areas of interest will still be protected.
The MP continued that houses are a necessity to settle the homebuilding problem and the changes will give young people help getting into homes. The only way these will be developed on protected land is under a new community right to build programme, which needs 90% approval from locals and would only allow up to 12 homes to be developed. Not caring in the future shows a level of unruly greed that isn’t very common, he added.
A spokesman for the National Trust hit back, saying that Clark and his colleagues think that designated countryside areas are all they care about. He says the charity hasn’t even mentioned them in their campaign, but they are concerned the reforms will threaten everyday places in and around towns, villages and cities. Saying the charity has an unruly view is also odd, as it has developed many homes themselves and have existing building permissions for hundreds more on land of their own. It’s their belief that developments have to meet the needs of the environment, people and economy.