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Planning minister writes to Inspectorate over landscape concerns

by on April 2, 2015

Appeal decisions should recognise what planning minister Brandon Lewis has called “the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside”. They should also ensure that “development is suitable for the local context”.

That was stressed by the minister in a letter sent to Simon Ridley, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, in which Lewis voiced concern over how landscape issues are being handled.

Lewis said: “I have become aware of several recent appeal cases in which harm to landscape character has been an important consideration in the appeal being dismissed.”

He added: “These cases are a reminder of one of the 12 core principles at paragraph 17 of the National Planning Policy Framework – that plans and decisions should take into account the different roles and character of different areas, and recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside – to ensure that development is suitable for the local context.”

The minister acknowledged that although National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coasts quite rightly enjoy the highest degree of protection, “outside of these designated areas the impact of development on the landscape can be an important material consideration”.

Lewis said: “We are publicising some of these appeal cases more widely, with the help of the Planning Advisory Service, to promote greater understanding of how landscape character can be taken into account by local planning authorities in their decisions

“These cases also reflect the wider emphasis on delivering sustainable outcomes at the heart of the Framework, which means taking full account of the environmental as well as the economic and social dimensions of development proposals.”

The minister also used the letter to restate the Coalition’s stance on prematurity, and the particular factors that need to be considered when doing so.

He added: “The weight that can be attached to an emerging plan will need to be considered carefully when assessing whether a prematurity argument is justified. We will continue to consider whether this careful balance is best serving local communities.”

Read the letter in full.


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