Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:42 UK

Community and local government questions

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark has defended the government's proposals to reform planning laws, saying they would not harm "middle England" but would benefit "young England".

The government's Draft National Planning Policy Framework aims to streamline planning, and introduces a "presumption in favour of sustainable development".

At Commons question time on 5 September 2011, Labour backbencher Tristram Hunt argued that the plans were "further proof that you cannot trust the Conservatives with the British countryside".

His frontbench colleague Caroline Flint warned that ministers were planning to "steamroll through" the changes despite "considerable concern across the country".

In July, the National Trust said: "The government's planning reforms could lead to unchecked and damaging development in the undesignated countryside on a scale not seen since the 1930s."

But Mr Clark rejected the criticism, telling MPs: "We have a crisis of housing and growth in this country that needs to be addressed by reforming the planning system in order to provide those things."

He concluded: "We are determined we shall preserve the character of middle England, but young England needs a roof over its head too."

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