New direction from Government to National Parks to “relax planning rules” could spell “unwanted” East Cleveland speculative housing development applications

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (November 22nd 2011) that new directions to National Parks from the Government’s Environment Department could mean a ‘rash of speculative housing planning applications for open land near to Guisborough and parts of East Cleveland.’

Tom said “The release of a new Business Plan from DEFRA last week contained the words ‘Ministers will consult whether the legislation for National Park Authorities needs to better reflect their role in facilitating sustainable development’ something that follows on from previous comments from Government advisers who have said that by giving National Parks this aim it would mean that they are “expected to deliver socio-economic benefits when pursuing their purposes”.

“Stripped of the bureaucratic language this is couched in, this means that National Parks – including the North York Moors National Park, parts of which borders towns in my constituency like Guisborough and Easington – could well be made to submit to agreeing to new, speculative, housing developments in these areas. There has already been past attempts to see if land could be freed up for housing in parts of the park near to Guisborough, but these were seen off due to the landscape importance of the area and the legal planning status of the NYMNP.”

“But if these news move succeed, these defences could be fatally holed below the waterline, giving developers a “licence to build” on some of the most pristine and stunning parts of my constituency. Pressure is growing on parks authorities to find other sources of income after their funding was cut in last year’s spending review, leading to concerns that some could come under pressure from sponsoring ministries to allow more development to bring in extra income and resources via ‘planning gain’. This cannot be allowed to come about, and I would hope the North York Moors Park Committee and officers resist this pressure, something that all lovers of the park would want and expect.”

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