Countryside campaigners on Wednesday have warned about the “truly irreversible damage” taking place because of an overhaul of the planning system which took effect at midnight last night, urging the coalition to reverse its “charter for builders”.
But senior ministers agreed at yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting to press ahead with the plans, under which all “sustainable development” must be waved through by any council that has not drawn up new local plans.
A third of local authorities have still not had their plans approved, leaving them open to unwanted building.
Eric Pickles, communities secretary, wants to go further and allow more liberalisation of the planning system as part of the coalition’s attempt to generate economic growth.
Last week’s Budget opened the way for a new “permitted development right” for people to convert retail properties into homes without planning permission – following a similar move to allow office-to-flats conversions.