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Page last updated at 07:39 GMT, Tuesday, 27 March 2012 08:39 UK

Planning minister: Communities are not a 'number on a plan'


The government will today reveal its new planning framework which it says will help stimulate economic growth and provide much needed new homes but critics fear the new rules will favour development.

The Today programme's Sanchia Berg spoke to a protestor and the developer of one project in Yorkshire that took nine years to work it's way through the process.

Greg Clark, Minister of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, told the Today programme's Evan Davis that the word "sustainable" means that there is a test as to whether an application is in the public interest.

He said that if it destroys a green belt, or the environment "it would not be sustainable and so should not go ahead".

He went on to say that "policy makers have a responsibility" to bring out the harmony of the need to balance employment with a need for housing.

Mr Clark maintained that these changes will simplify things, because the current planning system has "such a degree of complexity" that it imposes upon people rather than involves them from the beginning.

"If you advantage local people chances are tensions will ease and you will have a better outcome for everyone," he said.

He said that "in order to have a plan led system you need to have a plan" which around half of places in England have not been able to do because of the complexity of the system.

"It's a positive orientation to decision making", he said adding that it was also about decision-making, "if there is no plan you need to have some basis to make a decision".

He said that one of the problems with the current system is that it is "big on top down targets".

"When people are forced to do things from outside of the community rather than feeling part of it, resist it" so communities should be involved rather than being "a number on a plan".

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