Plea for tougher development controls

THE threat of "inappropriate" development in Suffolk's countryside is growing, claims a preservation society which has issued a rallying call for all the county's amenity groups to join forces.

THE threat of "inappropriate" development in Suffolk's countryside is growing, claims a preservation society which has issued a rallying call for all the county's amenity groups to join forces.

The Suffolk Preservation Society believes that as a result of proposed changes to the planning laws the risk to the county's landscape and historic buildings has never been greater in the group's 75-year history.

It is now calling on local amenity groups throughout Suffolk to form a "collective voice" to fight for the county's future.

Richard Watson, director, said the planning system was in the midst of great change and there would be a "profound" effect on Suffolk.


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"Not since 1929, when the society was founded, have the buildings and landscape of the county been under more pressure from change and the threat from development," he said.

Most of the proposed changes in the planning system were aimed at enabling developments - from wind farms and new residential estates to house extensions - to go ahead with greater ease and speed.

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"No longer is the countryside safe from inappropriate development," Mr Watson said.

The Government was requiring local authorities to consider wider national interests when determining planning applications and to look increasingly to mitigation measures to deal with local concerns and adverse environmental impact.

As well as meeting new housing targets, planning authorities were having to make provision for wind farms, sometimes in sensitive parts of the landscape, Mr Watson said.

Planning inspectors instead of elected councillors could dictate local planning policy in future and the Government was refusing to allow "third parties" any rights of appeal against "bad" development decisions.

In a letter to local amenity groups, Mr Watson calls on them to help present a collective voice over future planning issues.

"The greatest threat to our market towns, historic high streets, village settings and open countryside is public apathy - all those involved in safeguarding the local landscape cannot under-estimate this change in government direction," he says.

The society is planning a seminar to discuss the future of planning in Suffolk, share knowledge and decide a strategy for influencing decisions.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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