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LOCAL POWER ON HOUSING DECISIONS - THE TORY VIEW

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Archie Norman, the shadow environment secretary, has attacked the Royal Town Planning Institute's reaction to the T...
Archie Norman, the shadow environment secretary, has attacked the Royal Town Planning Institute's reaction to the Tory proposals for reform of the planning system.

In a letter to The Times (p23), Mr Norman says the RTPI's reaction 'reflected the all too predictable response of a planning establishment that has failed Britain's countryside and cities for decades'.

'For the last 30 years the 'we know best' attitudes of central government, planning bureaucrats and all those with a vested interest have prevailed. That is why there is a vicious circle of migration from our cities and loss of countryisde.

'That is why the myth continues that there is a need to build nearly four million new homes, half of them on green fields.'

He continues: 'It suits the planning establishment to maintain a centralised system so that the needs and the sensitivites of the local community do not interfere. The establishment view is that councils cannot be trusted with decisions about numbers of houses, or local design and architecture.

'As a result, housebuilding has become a political issue in which the secretary of state overrides the wishes of the community and tramples on local democracy.'

'We will ensure that councils will be under an obligation to meet the changing needs of their existing populations: but it will be for them to decide whether to expand their towns and villages or whether to adopt a conservationist approach at the expense of economic development.'

He concludes: 'The country has nothing to fear from giving local communities a genuine chance to protect and improve their neighbourhoods.'

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