~ Letter to Planning Minister Nick Boles MP.
Ten charities, including FPD, have sent an open letter to Planning Minister Nick Boles MP, urging him to exempt National Parks from proposals to allow redundant barns to be converted into housing without planning permission. The Government is expected to make a decision imminently on proposals which have attracted widespread opposition from the National Park sector.
The open letter was co-ordinated by the Campaign for National Parks and is also signed by all nine of the Friends’ groups who campaign locally to protect and enhance the National Parks of England. Signatories are deeply concerned that uncontrolled development could lead to significant harm to the natural beauty and special qualities of National Parks which contain a high number of redundant agricultural buildings. For example, there are around 4500 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park; many of which are in locations where residential use would require intrusive and unsightly new access routes and power lines. The letter argues that the new permitted development rights should not be introduced anywhere, but most importantly, not within National Parks.
Anne Robinson, Chairman of the Campaign for National Parks, says: “These proposals would undermine the Government’s existing commitments to protect National Parks and could lead to pockets of suburbia in areas which are much loved for their open space, natural beauty and tranquillity. We recognise that National Parks are living, working landscapes and fully support the appropriate change of use of old buildings but it is essential that this happens in a managed way through the planning system. This proposal is also contrary to the Government’s support for localism as it undermines the policies which National Park Authorities have developed in consultation with their local communities.”
The letter also highlights the potential impact on wildlife. Many redundant agricultural buildings, including modern structures, are home to wildlife such as bats, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The proposed changes will remove the ability of National Park Authorities to alert those undertaking conversions to the requirements of this Act so that they can undertake wildlife surveys where appropriate. Allowing demolition and rebuilding on the same site means an even greater threat to protected species and habitats.
Notes for Editors:
The Campaign for National Parks is the only national, voluntary sector organisation campaigning to protect and promote the 13 National Parks of England and Wales. Established for over 75 years, it is an umbrella of nearly 50 environmental and amenity organisations, and aims to give the voluntary sector a shared vision and voice on all National Park issues. Read the Campaign for National Parks’ response to the consultation.
The open letter to Nick Boles was signed by the Campaign for National Parks and all nine of the National Park Societies in England (Broads Society, Dartmoor Preservation Association, Exmoor Society, Friends of the Lake District, Friends of the Peak District, New Forest Association, North York Moors Association, South Downs Society and the Yorkshire Dales Society). National Park Societies are independent voluntary organisations whose members help to look after the National Parks.