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Proposed planning reforms threaten national park, says Authority

This is an archived press release

Friday 4 October 2013

The Peak District National Park Authority is appealing for exemption from Government proposals to allow farm buildings to be converted to housing, schools or nurseries without planning permission.

The Government is consulting planning authorities across England on its proposals to allow the conversion or demolition of farm buildings to create up to three houses or a state school or nursery without planning permission.

It follows recent changes which already allow farm buildings to be converted into shops or offices, and for offices to be turned into homes, without planning permission.

But the Peak District National Park Authority unanimously opposed the proposals. All the other nine national park authorities in England are also voicing strong objections, and National Parks England, which represents all English national park authorities, is submitting a joint plea for national park exemption.

Authority chair Tony Favell said: "These proposals would have a lasting impact on the landscape and heritage of national parks, and all the English authorities are clear about the need to mount a robust defence of these precious qualities.

"Traditional farm buildings are an integral part of the landscape and heritage which we and other national park authorities were set up to conserve. These proposals would seriously undermine one of our main statutory purposes and diminish local control of the management of national parks.

"It's not that we oppose the re-use of redundant farm buildings - far from it. We have, through the current planning system, approved conversions to houses and business units where appropriate and sustainable. We are able to do that on a case by case basis, but this would just lead to wholesale uncontrolled development that threatens to change the character of the area irreversibly, turning a rural landscape into a townscape.

"These proposals endanger the whole concept of national parks being special areas, set apart because of the quality of their landscape and heritage. We appeal to the Government to exempt national parks from these proposals, safe in the assurance that it will not exempt them from continuing to support local communities and the economy."

The consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government may be found at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/greater-flexibilities-for-change-of-use It ends on October 15.

This is an archived press release

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