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August 17, 2011

Country Life: English Heritage on planning policy

By Spear's

Simon Thurley, CEO of English Heritage, writes:

Ours is not a crumbling heritage system, as CLA president William Worsley suggests (Country Life, July 13). Those of us who board flights to hotter climes over the next few weeks will be reminded in at least one respect of how lucky we are to live in England. The achievements of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, which led to the presumption against development on greenbelt land, has preserved our countryside from the urban sprawl and suburbanisation that has blighted so many of our neighbours.

Last week, we saw the publication of the new draft National Planning Policy Framework, the Coalition’s reforming planning guidance. It turns many long-held planning assumptions on their head. Especially important is the new principle of a presumption in favour of so-called sustainable development. This is all very well, but what does sustainable mean? Well, that’s the debate that English Heritage (EH), the CLA, the Historic Houses Association, the CPRE, the National Trust and other interested heritage and countryside bodies will now have with the Government.

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