Ottery councillor hits out at ‘damaging’ planning laws

Ottery’s district councillor has been lobbying East Devon’s MP about what she thinks are environmentally damaging new planning laws.

Claire Wright met with Hugo Swire to discuss worries about the government’s new and controversial ‘light touch’ planning legislation.

In the biggest shake-up of planning law for decades, the National Planning Policy Framework aims to cut red tape around development, but has already been criticised several environmental groups, such as the National Trust, The Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth.

Cllr Wright said: “The justification for the NPPF is said to be to boost the economy. How is it good economics to cause a local authority to be so intimidated by the prospect of costly legal battles it approves environmentally damaging planning applications against its wishes?”

She thinks the new rules appear to mean that where there is a conflict the national plan takes precedence over the local strategy, and so successful appeals by developers in East Devon are highly likely.

She added: “I am very concerned about the effect on the area I represent, which is mostly undesignated but stunning countryside, such as around Tipton St John, Alfington and West Hill.”

She told Mr Swire she was concerned over weaker protection for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and that developer and landowner profit must be taken into consideration in planning applications according to the new document.

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Although it is still a draft document, East Devon District Council’s already controversial Local Development Framework must take it into account in any future strategies

Mr Swire has promised to talk to Housing Minister, Grant Shapps about the issue.