Trust chief attacks local decision hijack

The chairman of the National Trust Simon Jenkins has launched a withering attack on the planning system.

Speaking at a special Question Time event hosted by English Heritage, he derided government reforms as "endless messing about", condemning them for removing the "final decision over almost all planning matters from local government".

"If you stop local government making decisions, you will be making them on their behalf and end up with pepperpotting of tall buildings, terrible housing estates and pathfinder projects. You will not get the essential relationship of town conservation between the local electorate and local planning system and without that you will never get a decent city."

Jenkins also lambasted section 106 deals for doing more damage to cities than "anything produced by central government". He added: "The idea that you can build anything as long as you provide a primary school elsewhere in the borough is as crass a way of polluting the planning system as you could possibly have invented."

English Heritage chairwoman and former junior planning minister Baroness Andrews acknowledged that "planning has never been at the heart of local authorities". She added: "It is often at the periphery and is not the chief executive's primary concern. Yet planning informs the shape, the feel and the life of the community."

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