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PPS u-turn: Minister promises heritage planning policy redraft

Planning minister John Healey has said he would look again at the government’s controversial new national heritage planning guidelines

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Healey promised to ‘redraft’ Planing Policy Statement 15 (PPS 15) after heritage and conservation bodies branded the planned document a serious risk to the nation’s historic buildings.

Groups such as the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) feared the policy would become a charter for developers to knock down a swathe of old buildings based on ‘a narrow way of judging how important our heritage is to everyone’.

Healey told the paper: ‘To put it beyond doubt, there is no question of downgrading the protection of historic buildings. The current language in the planning policy statement is not clear enough. We will redraft it to make clear that the protection of heritage buildings will not be reduced.’

Matt Thomson, Acting Director Policy & Partnerships, RTPI said: ‘We are pleased that John Healey has listened to the industry’s concerns about the proposed PPS, which was badly worded and saw historic buildings as being a barrier to development.

‘It’s good that Government have indicated they are prepared to listen to what the sector has to say on this issue and we will work with them to ensure that the policy will do what it should do - viewing historic buildings places as an asset, not a burden to sustainable development.’

Duncan McCallum, English Heritage’s policy director, said: ‘We are confident that a revised document can be produced that will address the key concerns and clarify some policy wording and are keen to see the final version emerge before Easter 2010.

‘We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to reforming the heritage protection system and its determination to get the best possible policy statement for the historic environment.’

A final version of the guidance is set to emerge before Easter 2010.

Previously RTPI president Martin Willey had told the AJ: ‘The biggest problem is that [the guidelines] assume that heritage stands in the way of development and economic recovery, which is patently untrue. Historic buildings and places are an asset, not a burden.’

 

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