UK Property News 31st August 2011

Fifteen of the leading property CEOs and fund management heads, including British Land's Chris Griggs, Land Securities' Francis Salway, Legal & General Property's Bill Hughes and Great Portland Estates' Toby Courtauld, have written to prime minister David Cameron over concerns at growing delays on hoped for reforms to the planning system. In the letter to Cameron, the consortium of property heavyweights hit back at claims that the reforms will destroy England’s countryside and lead to "Los Angeles-style urban sprawl across the Green Belt". The signatories, led by British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace, argue that changes to the planning system are vital to allow the property industry to provide badly-needed homes, to support economic growth and at the same time allow local communities to protect valuable green spaces. And they point out that some critics have misunderstood the fundamental point of the changes proposed in the draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) – that councils and not developers will have the final say over development proposals, and that the changes do not change the way that the Green Belt and other protected sites are safeguarded. As well as attracting the support of business leaders, reform of the planning system has also been backed by several countryside groups.