National Trust chief says Eurozone crisis linked to 'lax planning'

The director-general of the National Trust has hit out at the government's drive to lift planning restrictions by claiming that the economic plight of European nations such as Greece is linked to the fact that they have 'lax planning regimes'.

Dame Fiona Reynolds
Dame Fiona Reynolds

Writing in the Daily Telegraph today, Fiona Reynolds also criticised the government for taking "negative sideswipes" at the planning system rather than seeing it as part of the solution to the UK’s economic woes.

Reynolds said: "Can it be a coincidence that the nations in the deepest economic trouble – Greece, Italy, Ireland – all share a reputation for lax planning regimes?

"The empty homes that blight the Irish countryside stand as icons of a discredited approach to growth and development, which ignores the needs of people and places in the pursuit of short-term profit."

She added that constant talk of planning restrictions and regulatory burdens gave a "wholly negative" impression of how the planning system works.

"A positive vision for planning, rather than negative sideswipes, should be at the heart of the Chancellor’s plans, shaping the England we want to see today and for decades to come". 

"I’m not suggesting that our planning system doesn’t need to change. It needs to become more streamlined and efficient in the way it operates, and more inclusive of local wishes and opinions. The economy needs new growth, and we need to build homes and provide new jobs as a matter of urgency.

"But we need to build these homes – and the community and environmental infrastructure they depend on – in a new way, in places that offer a more sustainable future and in which we want to live. The NPPF as drafted does not deliver this, but presents the vision of a return to the bad old days of planning by appeal and soulless out-of-town developments."

The full comment piece can be read here.

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