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National Trust chair savages government on planning

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Simon Jenkins accuses the government of endlessly ‘messing about’ with the UK’s planning system

National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins told the audience at a special Question Time of his frustration over government reforms, blasting ministers for removing the final decision for planning matters from local government.

He explained at the event hosted by English Heritage: ‘If you stop local government making decisions, you will be making them on their behalf and end up with pepperpotting of tall buildings, terrible housing estates and pathfinder projects.

‘You will not get the essential relationship of town conservation between the local electorate and local planning system and without that you will never get a decent city.’

Section 106 deals, where local planning authorities enter into a legally binding agreement with a landowner over the granting of planning permission, were also criticised

Mr Jenkins complained they were doing more damage to cities than ‘anything produced by central government’.

He added: ‘The idea that you can build anything as long as you provide a primary school elsewhere in the borough is as crass a way of polluting the planning system as you could possibly have invented.’

English Heritage chairwoman and former junior planning minister Baroness Andrews admitted that planning was often ‘not the chief executive’s primary concern’, and emphasised its importance by explaining it ‘informs the shape, the feel and the life of the community’.

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