The Coalition Government doesn’t seem to be able to get too much right at the moment when it comes to policy on homes.
Its so-called green credentials are in tatters over the latest planning initiatives.
‘Rhetoric’ and ‘weasel-worded policy statements’ are just some of the terms being bandied about as conservation and wildlife groups step up their attacks.
No one seems to have any confidence in the ability of ministers to put up a tent – let alone mastermind a strategy to protect our precious countryside while at the same time accommodating developments that they claim are vital.
More national charities and organisations have hurled themselves into the row over the controversial planning reforms.
The RSPB has now joined with the National Trust and the CPRE to attack the Government’s overhaul of the planning process, which they say will be a green light for developers and result in huge tracts of green fields disappearing.
The charity said it had been on to Planning Minister and Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark over whether the building of tens of thousands of new homes by a so-called “presumption in favour” of development would be sustainable.
RSPB chief executive Mike Clarke (no relation and different spelling) said the minister even stated that some of the “fundamental principles of the proposals were unclear” and had invited his group to help redraft the plans so they delivered for both the economy and the environment.
So at least they are talking.
Mr (RSPB) Clarke said: “The RSPB deals with more than 650 planning cases a year and I, personally, have taken part in many planning enquiries.
“So I know first-hand how Government rhetoric and weasel-worded policy statements can lead to the wrong development in the wrong place.
“The Government is clearly not close enough to the day-to-day reality of the planning process, otherwise it would understand our concern.”
The National Trust and the CPRE both say that the redrawing of the planning process, which ministers say would give local people more power over development, would also give developers preference to build unless there were major reasons that a green field should remain, well, green.
It is in the interests of everyone to get a policy that has a broad level of agreement in place.
And one national charity does support the plans – Homeless Link.
“If we want a country where everyone has a roof over their head, we must make it a priority to build truly affordable homes,” said chief executive Jenny Edwards.
“More land needs to be allocated for the right type of housing, in the right locations. An efficient planning system is key, with a strong focus on delivering affordable housing,” she said.
This one will rumble on.