Listed buildings and scenic spots face destruction after planning rule changes





In previously unreported plans, the Government is to downgrade protection on old buildings and those in conservation areas in order to “benefit developers” and “reduce the number of applications for planning permission rejected on heritage grounds.”

The professional body representing town planners today launches an unprecedented attack on the proposal as “fundamentally flawed”, “unfit for purpose” and a potential “charter for people who want to knock buildings down.” The president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has also attacked the plans and experts estimated that tens of thousands of listed and heritage properties could be knocked down as a result of the proposed change...

... The move is intended to make it easier and quicker to build “nationally necessary” but highly-controversial projects. Sir Michael Pitt, the IPC’s new chair, said it would “deal with the enormous amounts of delay” caused to vital projects by the current system. “The country needs a more effective means of decision making on national infrastructure,” he said...

... The separate changes to historic building protection are contained in a draft Government “planning policy statement,” PPS 15, slipped out during the summer holidays and open for consultation until last week. It will become national policy which all local councils must follow when making decisions on individual planning applications.

The new policy says that local authorities should allow the demolition or alteration of historic buildings where the “material harm” caused to an area’s heritage “is outweighed by the wider social, economic and environmental benefits of the proposed development”. The policy says that this “is likely to benefit developers… for example, it should reduce the number of applications for planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent rejected on heritage-related grounds”.

There are about 375,000 nationally listed buildings and about the same number of locally listed buildings. The proposed policy says that “material loss of grade 1 and 2-star listed buildings” should be “wholly exceptional”. However, it makes no mention of grade 2 listed buildings, which make up 92 per cent of England’s listed buildings...


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