Eric Pickles, the Local Government secretary, appealed directly to readers of The Daily Telegraph to back the reforms, insisting that fears they “will lead to a charge of concrete mixers rolling into the English countryside were completely unfounded”.
The news came as government plans to allow home owners to double the size of ground floor extensions without planning permission were rejected by the Lords.
The new national planning policy framework, which came into force on Tuesday night, requires councils to promote “sustainable development” in planning decisions.
The 52-page NPPF – which replaces more than 1,400 pages of existing guidance – was bitterly opposed by rural campaigners and readers of the Telegraph through its “Hands Off Our Land” campaign.
Sir Andrew Motion, a former poet laureate and chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, suggested the change would “wreck the countryside”.
He said the NPPF was “proving to be ground breaking in all the wrong ways”, adding: “Developing greenfield sites unnecessarily and with inadequate local consultation is entirely the wrong way to make sure that we get the new homes the country so badly needs.
“This is a charter for builders and truly irreversible damage is already underway. It is urgent that something is done about it.”
Sir Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, said: “The majority of the English countryside which is not designated for protection is now to be released for development to a degree that we have not experienced since the 1940s.
“That is clearly the case and this is very sad. It just means we are moving away from planning of any sort towards a building permit system as in Ireland.”
The National Trust published a report which appears to show the NPPF is forcing planning inspectors to favour developers over the views of local people.
The report by the Local Government Information Unit found that the Planning Inspectorate, which rules on controversial planning schemes, was increasingly over-ruling local people because of the new National Planning Policy Framework.
It said: “The LGiU has found evidence that for ensuring that local plans are consistent with the NPPF, it is prioritising development over the views of local people.
“The LGiU found that the need for more new homes was the most common reason for local plans being found unsound. Supporters of the NPPF have acknowledged that national priorities are taking precedence over the views of local communities.”
But Mr Pickles warned that people will be condemned to “rabbit hutch houses” unless the planning reforms were allowed to work and development allowed.
Mr Pickles pledged that “every inch of brownfield land” would be built on, rather than greenfield areas as campaigners feared.
He said: “We are making the most of every single square inch of brownfield land, every vacant home and every disused building.
“We’re seeing the right decisions made – less appeals, less challenges, and less overturning. Fewer planning appeals means more local decision-making.”
Of course if the NPPF had a single clause in it preventing ‘rabbit houtch homes’ ‘hobbit homes’ whatever you want to call it then he might be taken seriously. But with him stripping away local standards and not adopting room size standards the NPPF becomes a charter for rabbit hutch builders.