Letter: Stately homes belong firmly to the past

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Sir: Your article "Gummer's vision for our rural future: more stately homes for the rich" (20 February), about the provisions in the Government's new planning guidance for rural areas, portrays a misleading picture of the Council for the Protection of Rural England's view.

CPRE is not "anti-development". We support a great number of development proposals, which, unfortunately, often goes unreported. The new guidance is, in general, welcome. In particular, we welcome the implication in the new guidance that local authorities need to think more carefully about the kind of development which is appropriate in rural areas. We believe in a more discriminating approach to rural development in which identified social and economic needs are met in ways which do not damage the quality of the rural environment.

The provision in the new guidance to encourage the building of new country houses is not warranted. The planning system already has sufficient flexibility to allow for truly innovative design. Moreover, CPRE is concerned that this special provision will create a new loophole in the planning system whereby speculative developers will be encouraged to build larger and more obtrusive homes in open countryside.

GREGOR HUTCHEON

Rural Affairs Officer

Council for the Protection of Rural England, London SW1

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