Commenting ahead of the Government’s announcement on new planning guidelines expected later today (Tuesday 27 March 2012), Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s Campaigns Coordinator Roxanne Green said:
“For cities like Birmingham to thrive, the last thing we need is for the government to be dismantling planning safeguards and regulations.
“A strong planning system is vital for building the clean economy that the council here aspires to, but there are mounting concerns that Ministers will unleash a building free-for-all that will infuriate local communities and suck all the capital for prime development out into the countryside.
“The new planning regulations must spell out what is meant by ‘sustainable development’ – to ensure the right buildings are built in the right place and in the best interests of local people and our environment.
“Birmingham is trying to get documents in place, such as “Places for the Future”, which will provide this guidance for developers locally, but we need to ensure the government provides safeguards for the interim period.
“Any lack of clarity spells bad news for business and communities as developments are argued over in appeals and land in Birmingham continues to lie undeveloped.”
Notes to editors:
1. Friends of the Earth is calling for a planning system that has a definition of sustainable development based on the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development and
• recognises our environmental limits – we need to plan for a changing climate and finite natural resources, which means developing cleaner energy systems, minimising waste, and not building houses on floodplains where families are struggling to get insurance
• puts the right development in the right place – local people should have their say and local plans should not be overridden by speculative developers looking for short-term profit;
• breathes life back into our high-streets by supporting small businesses and protecting local economies from supermarket chains and out-of-town developments;
• cuts emissions from transport by providing reliable, affordable bus and tram services and encouraging safer walking and cycling – not building expensive new roads that increase traffic and worsen air pollution;
• supports the green building industry and makes sure our new homes are well insulated, energy efficient and affordable.
2. Friends of the Earth is part of Wildlife and Countryside Link, a group of 37 voluntary organisations in the UK calling for a set of Red Lines to ensure future development is sustainable and protects wildlife. It says:
• Sustainable development must be defined in line with the current UK Sustainable Development Strategy;
• The presumption in favour of sustainable development must be designed to promote development that is sustainable, rather than development at any cost;
• The whole of the natural environment must be properly and consistently protected;
• The NPPF must achieve ‘smart growth’, meaning growth that makes efficient use of land, utilises existing infrastructure and reduces the need to travel.
• For more information see www.wcl.org.uk.
3. Birmingham Friends of the Earth provided a response to the Places for the Future Supplementary Planning Document last week, which can be viewed on the website: https://birminghamfoe.org.uk/planning-news/our-response-to-the-places-for-the-future-consultation
4. Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. More than 90 per cent of our income comes from individuals so we rely on donations to continue our vital work. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk