New guidelines should protect the countryside

David Ruffley, Conservative PPC for Bury St Edmunds 2010
David Ruffley, Conservative PPC for Bury St Edmunds 2010
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NEW planning guidelines have been greeted with cautious optimism.

The Government has unveiled the amended National Planning Policy Framework following a public outcry that original proposals failed to protect the countryside.

The latest guidelines still introduce a presumption that all sustainable planning developments be approved.

The National Trust has cautiously welcomed changes to the planning framework which it said recognise the importance of the countryside and give a stronger definition of a sustainable development.

MP for Bury St Edmunds, David Ruffley said: “Though I welcome the requirement that existing brownfield sites must now be considered for development before digging up green fields I am still concerned.

“In the House of Commons, Greg Clark, Minister for Decentralisation and Planning, in effect said neighbourhood plans drawn up by parish councils or community groups will not on their own be able to block a Council Local Plan proposal for new homes.

“I am, therefore, still concerned about excessive residential home development in St Edmundsbury Council’s draft Local Plan.

“If we are not careful, in 20 years’ time we won’t know where the town ends and the villages begin.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has outlined its intentions for the development of the borough through a plan entitled Vision 2013.

In the proposal the council outlines plans to build thousands of new homes over the next 20 years to the north-west, west, north-east, east and south-east of the town.

The council has said that it will protect a green buffer zone between the town and its surrounding villages in order to allow their individual identities to be maintained.