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Growth law could strip Kent communities of a voice, warn campaigners

PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 October 2012

Kent countryside

Kent countryside

Archant

Fears follow the unveiling of the new growth and infrastructure law

Environment activists have warned that new legislation aimed at cutting bureaucratic planning barriers may strip communities of a voice.

David Cameron unveiled the new growth and infrastructure law which includes speeding up the planning process for large scale developments and stopping the misuse of town and village green applications to “undermine planned development” whilst protecting precious community space.

The Prime Minister said it would cut red tape, kick-start building on stalled developments and help unlock investment and create jobs.

But fears have been raised it could instead pave the way for inappropriate development in the countryside and place important decisions in the hands of the Secretary of State, meaning communities have less of a say on development decisions where they live.

Protect Kent, the county’s branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said large developments could become more likely and developers would be able to undermine common law protection of village greens.

Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston said: “The Localism Act was only introduced eight months ago and already the Government seems intent on centralising planning powers in order to boost potential economic growth.

“However, CPRE Protect Kent has yet to be convinced that this bill will promote sustainable jobs.

“We fear it will take away right of local people to be involved in the local planning process and will lead to an even greater threat to the countryside.”

But planning minister Nick Boles said it would boost investment and local economic growth.

“It removes confusing and overlapping red tape, whilst ensuring democratic checks and balances, and environmental safeguards remain in place,” he said.

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