New housing planning rules could shatter environmental efforts

Dartmoor National Park Authority have claimed the government’s proposals to loosen planning rules in green spaces displays our country’s disregard for the environment. 

In July 2023 the government launched a consultation on a new legislation that could allow landowners to convert barns into houses without planning permission. However, since this news emerged environmental experts have stated how the move could undo years of conservation work.

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As well as allowing for barns to be converted into homes, vacant shops could also be transformed into living spaces. Currently, shopfronts should be left empty for three months before they can be turned into a home.

Kevin Bishop, chief executive of the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), said the move could severely weaken the authority’s conservation powers.

Mr Bishop said the plans, which were proposed by the government with an aim to find ways to increase housebuilding as the national housing shortage, that has occurred as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, continues to plague England, ‘basically drives a coach and horses through the powers that we have to protect Dartmoor for future generations.

‘On one level it’s a charter for speculators and developers – it’s not a charter for conservation and our communities.’

The consultation for the new legislation is open until 25th September 2023.

Alongside working to combat new planning rules, national park bosses in Dartmoor are currently also fighting to overturn a legal ruling that restored camping in the area.

As it stands the National Park Authority have been informed that an appeal against the judgement to allow for people to camp in the area, which bosses believe would disrespect the environment, has been lodged with the Supreme Court and is currently under review.

The authority said it has sought to defend the public’s right to access the national park for open air recreation ever since the case was brought before the courts, first at the High Court and then the Court of Appeal.

A spokesperson for the authority said: ‘Donations of time and money are essential for us to be able to look after the heritage and wildlife of Dartmoor and to make it a place for everyone to enjoy today, tomorrow and for the future.’

Image: Maria Ziegler

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