Daily Mail on the New Homes Bonus and the #NPPF

Daily Mail

Councils are being offered £1billion to push through plans to build new homes on greenfield sites.

Ministers were accused of bribery yesterday when it emerged that millions upon millions will be used to gather support for the controversial policy.

The ‘new homes bonus’ will go to local authorities that participate in a building boom the Tories say is vital for the economy.

For example, a development of 3,700 houses at East Coker in Somerset would net the local council around £54million in grants.

Ministers will tell campaigners that they have won in their battle against changes to planning laws, which they said would allow developers to ‘concrete over the countryside’

It comes at a time when councils are being asked to make swingeing cuts.

Peter Martin, an independent councillor on Tory-led Cotswold district council, described the payments as little more than ‘bribery’.

And the West Country branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the payments ‘amount to a bribe to allow building on greenfield sites’.

The bonus was announced in the spring, but it only emerged yesterday how much was being spent on it.

Ministers will allow the National Trust to claim ‘victory’ in its fight against planning reforms – even though most of the Coalition’s controversial changes will be implemented anyway.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, said: ‘Peace is breaking out all over’

They will let campaigners say they have won the argument against Government proposals, which protesters claim will allow developers to concrete over the countryside.

Some changes will be made to appease lobby groups, but the vast majority of the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework will go forward as intended.

The blueprint, which slashes planning guidance from hundreds of pages to just 52, provoked a huge row when it was unveiled in the summer.

Changes will be made to tighten up its meaning after officials conceded too much was open to interpretation.

But the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which campaigners say makes it harder for councils to stop building projects, is unlikely to be dropped.

A Cabinet source said: ‘The National Trust will have to claim victory.’

The most significant change is the reinstatement of a ‘brownfield first’ rule to ensure previously developed sites are built on before open countryside.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, of the National Trust, said: ‘Peace is breaking out all over.’

The Trust wants to see at least ten changes to the framework, including dropping the demand for 20 per cent more land for building and allowing communities a limited right of appeal against development.

On the money given to councils, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: ‘Councils that choose growth will receive extra new homes bonus funding. That is not a bribe; it is sensible recognition of the benefits growth can and should bring to communities.’

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