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Suburbanisation of our National Parks

October 8, 2013

Proposed planning reforms threaten suburbanisation of the National Park, says Authority

7 October 2013

Dartmoor National Park Authority is asking the Government to think again about its proposals to allow farm buildings to be converted to housing, schools or nurseries without the need for planning permission.

The Government is consulting planning authorities across England on its proposals to allow the conversion or demolition of farm buildings to create up to three houses or a state school or nursery without planning permission.

It follows recent changes which already allow farm buildings to be converted into shops or offices, and for offices to be turned into homes, without planning permission.

Authority Chairman Bill Hitchins said:
‘Members were unanimous in their opposition to these proposed changes.  We believe it will lead to the suburbanisation of Dartmoor;  is contrary to the Government’s desire for localism as it will prevent town and parish councils from commenting on such proposals; will increase our costs; and may actually lead to the loss of traditional hill farming.’

‘If the proposals are implemented they will have a lasting impact on the landscape and heritage of Dartmoor National Park.  Traditional farm buildings are an integral part of the landscape and heritage which we are charged by Parliament to conserve.’

‘A sustainable future for hill farming is a top priority for the Authority as farmers  help to maintain the landscape that we all cherish and enjoy.  We are not opposed to the re-use of redundant farm buildings – far from it.  We have, through the current planning system, approved conversions to houses and business units where appropriate and sustainable. We are able to do that on a case by case basis, but this would just lead to wholesale uncontrolled development that threatens to change the character of the area irreversibly, turning a rural landscape into a townscape.’

The consultation by the Department of Communities and Local Government ends on October 15. It may be found at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/greater-flexibilities-for-change-of-use (external link, opens new window).

For further information
Stephen Belli, Director of Planning
Mike Nendick, Communications Officer, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Tel:(01626) 832093

Notes for Editors
Dartmoor National Park Authority’s purposes under the Environment Act 1995 are:

  • to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park;
  • to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public.

In carrying out this work, we are also required to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park.

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