200,000 demand rethink over planning reforms

More than 200,000 people have signed a National Trust petition calling on the Government to rethink its controversial planning reforms.

Around 210,000 signatures, collected online, in local communities and at National Trust properties across England, had been handed in by yesterday – the last day of the Government's public consultation into the proposed reforms.

Ministers say changes to the planning system, which slim down more than 1,000 pages of policy to just 52, are needed to boost growth at the same time as giving communities more say in their local area and protecting the environment.

But concerns have been raised that the reforms, which focus on a "presumption in favour of sustainable development" without a clear definition of what that means, could lead to a return to damaging development and urban sprawl.

The National Trust, with a number of other groups, have been calling for changes to the draft national planning policy framework to ensure it protects the countryside and ensures development that is "genuinely" sustainable.

The ensuing row between ministers and conservation groups has seen David Cameron step in to reassure opponents the Government is committed to protecting the countryside and to balancing environmental, economic and social needs. PA

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