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Osborne and Pickles: Do not underestimate government commitment to planning reform

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Chancellor George Osborne and communities secretary Eric Pickles have defended the governments’ proposed planning reforms amid fierce opposition from conservation groups

In a joint article published in today’s Financial Times (5 September), the duo vowed to push forward with planning reform, explaining they would ‘fight for jobs, prosperity and the right protection for the countryside.’

They said: ‘No one should underestimate our determination to win this battle’.

The cost of winning planning permission in London’s West End is twice the cost it would be in Paris and ten times higher than in Brussels, the senior government politicians claimed.

They also said planning delays cost the economy £3 billion while the planning system itself was ‘complex and adversarial’ and ‘part of the problem’ behind the nation’s house building slump.

Their statement came as the row over the proposed national planning policy framework intensified last week after leaked documents showed that government officials predict 1,000 more major developments will go forward each year following the reform.

The National Trust has criticised the policy, which contains a presumption in favour of sustainable development, claiming it could unleash ‘damaging and unchecked development’ at a level ‘not seen since the 1930s’ while the Daily Telegraph newspaper has also launched a campaign against the reform.

Prime minister David Cameron has defended the policy, promising to take on the ‘lobby groups’ which had attempted to block the government’s economy-boosting plans.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday he said: ‘My order to Whitehall this autumn is to think even more boldly about what we can do to put the turbo-boosters on Britain’s economy – and nothing should be taboo. If that means taking on all the lobby groups that are defending every last bit of the regulation that crushes businesses – then we will do it.’

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