Here is the full text of a letter from the CPRE - Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. We have until 10th May to protest to government against MORE planning rules that threaten our countryside;

Behind the scenes In Devon planning An introduction 

Few could argue that many of us Devonians are truly lucky to live and work in some of the most beautiful countryside to be found anywhere in Europe. Those who live in our towns and cities can also regularly take their families out to enjoy this wonderful countryside. It is this stunning scenery that, together with our coastline, forms the principal foundations for our thriving tourism industry. 


But few of us can also have failed to notice, both physically on the ground and often in the local press, an incredibly steep rise in the amount of new house building activity currently taking place in our rural communities. This coincides with an increase in pressure being placed on local councils to achieve ever increasing government housing targets. 


Ever ask yourself why? Why the wrong type of houses? at the wrong price and seemingly always in the wrong place? Do some research and you will quickly find the answer to be a continuous relaxing and dilution of planning legislation that, up till recently, has afforded some measure of protection to the countryside. Legislation is being steadily “upgraded” with complex, difficult new legislation, often associated with a “presumption to approve” a developers’ application. Government uses one hand to financially squeeze local authorities’ with ever increasing austerity measures and then with the other bribes and rewards them whenever they pass a meaningless government housing target. 


Much of this new legislation is (deliberately?) so badly worded, open to misinterpretation and hidden behind layers of smoke and mirrors that it is beyond the comprehension of even some planning professionals, let alone members of the public. This paperwork jungle obviously suits the government (they do not want the public to really understand what is going on) , but it also suites the large builders and developers very well. They are the ones who principally benefit from these changes and whose lawyers thrive in all the confusion. They like nothing more than taking on a cash strapped local planning authority in an appeal court in order to win substantial damages if they don’t get their way. 


But behind all the mayhem the plans are not really working , the developers are struggling to sell all their expensive newly built estates, (even with the Government’s help to buy scheme now being extended to new houses of up to £600,000, - certainly not what the public thought this programme was for). So back to the drawing board, even more change is needed! 


Lets briefly highlight the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, whose consultation shortly ends on May 10th) in order to showcase this current planning manipulation in action. Both the current and proposed NPPF documents are dry and complex but the proposed revised framework replaces hard facts with soft words that are at best subjective and open to (mis)interpretation. A good example, paragraphs 115 and 116 in the current NPPF provides an element of protection to our National Parks, Heritage Coastline and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The words are to be replaced with a paragraph 170, part of which states that “Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.” This suggests that if a developer (maybe encouraged by a presumption to approve) is able to conjure up an “exceptional” public interest argument, then it is not difficult to see housing developments being quickly brought forward onto Exmoor, Dartmoor and all around our Heritage Coastline. One thing is certain, if these proposed changes go ahead they will be approved, built and sold very quickly, - but only to people who can actually afford the high prices.


This is just the tip of the planning iceberg and highlights what is changing in planning regulations at the time of writing. There is so much more going on behind the scenes, we mentioned a presumption to approve, add such things as Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, a clause which formalised “planning gain”, often this makes it in the local authorities’ interests to allow certain housing schemes to balloon beyond reason, in the hope of creaming off even more fat from developers’ profits for the public good. But the developers in turn are permitted to counter this with such as a “viability” clause that often allows them to reduce the amount of less profitable “affordable” housing in order to achieve a higher measure of profitability. 


There is a risk that government is seting up councils that fail to deliver on their housing targets as simply being “anti-development”, or nimby and unfairly demonises them for rightly opposing inappropriate developments in their areas, many of which not only fail to meet communities’ needs, but actually can cause harm to their wellbeing and quality of life.' 


Having attempted to lift the lid just a little to show what is happening behind the scenes, If after reading this you value living in the West Country and the future of its rural and coastal heritage. Then you must personally FIGHT to stop this trend towards housebuilding without question - do not expect someone else to do it for you, please do something about it NOW




Lobby your Parish Council, 

Lobby your District Councillor, 

Lobby your County Councillor 

Write to your MP 

But most importantly 

join and support the only active truly independent local organisation currently campaigning on these issues 

CPRE Devon 

We are a local charity, run by volunteers, CPRE Devon 

Web Site 

Registered Charity No: 245317 


For local videos, news, letters, resources etc 


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Get in touch to le let us know what is happening in your area or if you feel we can help in any way 


01392 966737 

If there is something urgent you would like to discuss 


As you know, there is considerable pressure on the Government to build more homes and to facilitate this objective, The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Sport are currently consulting on amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework. The new planning framework seeks to weaken individuals’ rights to object. As a member for Mid Devon the amendment which I find most disturbing is the watering down of our right to object to developments on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If we don’t do something fast, we could face proposals for developments on Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks which we will be powerless to stop. 


I am writing to ask you to campaign against this proposal. 


The amendments are currently out to consultation which is open to everyone. The Ministry is keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public. This consultation began on 5 March and closes at 23:45 on 10 May. 


What you can do to help. 

1. Follow the link 



Go to the foot of the page where is states ‘Ways to respond’ and click on ‘respond online’ and once you have filled in your personal details, respond as follows: 


Your objection is under chapter 15. Conserving and Enhancing the natural environment. Ignore the first bit about added protection for trees but in the ‘any other comments ’ copy and paste the following: 


I am objecting to the replacement of NPPF 115 & 116 from the previous NPPF guidelines into the new guideline of NPPF 170. Under the previous framework, sections NPPF 115 and 116 set out clear, unambiguous tests that had to be passed before building could take place on AONBs. This provided clarity for all parties - developers, councils, planner, objectors, homeowners and other interested parties. 


The new wording of NPPF 170 is so vague and ambiguous that it opens the door for developers to build right across our AONBs.’ 


Then submit your response and sign out. 


2. Alternatively you can email the following email address, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the following subject heading 

“Objection to the revised national planning policy framework’ 

Write the same words in italics in section 1. 

3. Or you could print out the above wording on letterhead and send it to the address below: 

Planning Policy Consultation Team 

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government 

3rd floor, South East 

Fry Building 

2 Marsham Street 



Please hurry, objections must be received by 10th May. 

Thank you


Here are some further documents for you to review;

Articles from Western Morning News

National Planning Policy Framework - Consultation proposals

National Planning Policy Framework - draft text for consultation

Draft Planning Practice Guidance



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