Planning reforms 'a gross oversimplification', says countryside charity
A countryside charity has called the government's radical changes to the planning process a "gross oversimplification".
CPRE, previously known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, criticised the shake-up, which Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called a "simpler, faster, people-focused system to deliver the homes and places we need".
Under the government's new system, land would be designated in one of three categories; for growth, for renewal or for protection.
On growth land, permission for new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices would be given automatically.
Land for renewal will be considered with a "permission in principle", with checks being carried out.
Protected land, which would include green belts, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and heritage sites, would be left alone.
Mr Jenrick wrote that those areas would "be protected as the places, views and landscapes we cherish most and passed on to the next generation as set out in our manifesto".
CPRE has criticised the proposed changes and said that deregulation is not the most effective way to encourage economic growth.
Tom Fyans, the charity's director of campaigns and policy, said: "The government’s intended reforms sound like a gross oversimplification of the planning system.
"First and foremost, our planning process must respond to the needs of communities, both in terms of providing much-needed affordable homes and other vital infrastructure, and green spaces for our health and wellbeing.
"The planning process as it stands may not be perfect but instead of deregulating planning, the government must invest in planning. Quality development needs a quality planning system with community participation at its heart.
"The Secretary of State has claimed that these planning reforms will still be very much ‘people-focused’ but that flies in the face of what has been outlined today by the government.
"We eagerly await more details and will be joining forces with a range of other housing, planning and environmental campaigning bodies to push back hard on the deregulation agenda, which has never been the answer to the question of how best to boost economic growth."