21 January 2000
Tighten up planning, says watchdog

by FWi staff

TIGHTER planning regulations are needed to protect the countryside, claims a rural watchdog organisation in its new charter.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England says that loopholes which exist in current planning regulations must be closed.

The organisation, which seeks to protect countryside threatened by development, says rules in rural area are less stringent than in urban areas.

It fears that the governments forthcoming Rural White Paper will relax regulations in an attempt to encourage businesses to locate in rural areas.

Tony Burton, CPRE assistant director, told Radio Fourthat he was concerned a recent Cabinet Office report suggested a further relaxation of the rules.

This was not the way forward to protect either the environment, or the landscape or jobs, he said.

All other businesses needed to comply with normal planning measures and that those in rural areas should be no different, added Mr Burton.

But tighter planning should not be equated with a refusal of permission.

“Its important not to confuse need to apply for planning permission and the possibility it might be refused, said Mr Burton.

Nine out of ten countryside planning permission requests go through.”

The government should tackle the “real” problems facing businesses in rural areas, namely childcare, transport, business advice and training, he urged.

Both the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association support relaxing planning regulations in the countryside.