Change of planning
Sir: In his letter about the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester (10 September), Mark Brockbank says "The planning process is carried out under the rules laid down by the Government" and "Permission was given for Trafford development to go ahead because the House of Lords ruled that the law said there was no reason why it could not".
Permission for the Trafford Centre was given under a previous policy in a previous government. It is the policy which determines the planning process. At that time, the government of the day was lenient towards out- of-town development, and negative to the role of the planning system, which it saw as inhibiting competition.
Now we are moving away from the mistakes of the past; such permission would be far more difficult to obtain.
Section 54A of the Town & Country Planning Act (1990) gives priority to the local authority's Development Plan - prepared with public involvement and in accordance with current policy. This policy requires that the development plan looks first at town centre sites, makes use of previously developed land and aims to minimise travel.
Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 (1997) states that "an applicant who proposes development which is clearly in conflict with the development plan would need to produce convincing reasons why the plan should not prevail".
Planners knew then that the building of the Trafford Centre was not the right thing to do - it is only now that government agrees with us.
The Royal Town Planning Institute
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