Planning in the media

With the passing of the party conference season, some media commentators focused on the state of green politics, with The Guardian casting an eye over the main parties' records.

It poured scorn on shadow chancellor George Osborne's ditching of green taxes and said the Tories have ended their "eco-flirtation". Labour's record fared little better: "The environment is hardly at the core of this government's agenda. The past decade has seen 28 bills on criminal justice and only six on climate change. In other words, getting tough on criminals has been a bigger priority for Labour than tackling global warming." The Liberal Democrats "talk most convincingly about green taxes", the paper said. The party won "credit for thinking hard about how to tax more greenly without hitting the poorest".

The Independent's Geoffrey Lean thought that politicians are missing a trick on green taxes, citing an Ipsos-MORI poll in which respondents supported such levies by six to one. They also backed higher taxes on gas-guzzlers and tax breaks for energy-efficient homes by four to one, with 49 per cent endorsing a halt to airport expansion plans. Conservatives support green politics more than the wider public do, Lean noted, offering a lesson for party leader David Cameron. "He would be wise to stick to his green guns," he added. Not doing so will "cost him credibility and lose vital support as he badly needs it", Lean concluded.

The Sunday Telegraph took issue with PPS3 for classifying the area of land attached to a building as brownfield, which has led to an explosion of homes being built in gardens. Such projects now account for more than half of new houses in 28 English local authority areas, the paper reported. It quoted Tory MP Greg Clark's accusation that the government is "conning the public when it boasts about building on brownfield sites". His private member's bill, which seeks to exempt gardens from the definition of brownfield, receives its final reading this autumn.

For those planners who have to consider the state of their local housing markets, the signs are that the relentless rise in prices may soon be a thing of the past. The market turmoil that caused the run on the Northern Rock may spell the end for the UK's property boom, claimed the Daily Telegraph. According to research commissioned by the paper, prices are now reaching the breaking point of unaffordability and rises will grind to a halt nationwide next year.

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