UK Politics

Conservative Party: Ending exploitation of the planning system

News   •   Feb 15, 2010 10:11 GMT

Bob Neill, the Shadow Minister for Local Government and Planning, calls for more "fair play", as he pledges new measures to tackle illegal development and trespass.

The Conservatives have announced new plans to tackle widespread public concern about the exploitation of the planning system.

A new policy blueprint will pledge to address the small minority of travellers who occupy illegal or unauthorised sites. "The British public want to see fair play for all, rather than special treatment being given to some", Neill said.

"Labour’s changes have undermined community cohesion by creating a legitimate sense of injustice in the planning system".

The proposals will include plans to:

  • Create a new criminal offence of intentional trespass. Trespassers who refuse to move after being asked to do so by a uniformed police officer will face arrest. This will allow both squatters and travellers occupying property without permission of the landowner to be removed quickly.
  • Curtail the ability to apply for retrospective planning permission. This will stop the practice of people laying down concrete on weekends or bank holidays and then putting in a planning application.
  • Scrap John Prescott’s unfair Whitehall planning rules, which are compelling councils to build traveller camps on the Green Belt and compulsory purchase people’s land to find sites.
  • Give tougher ‘stop notice’ enforcement powers to councils with authorised sites, and support central funding for councils to build authorised sites – rather than it failing to local taxpayers.
  • The Human Rights Act will be replaced with a British Bill of Rights to prevent 'human rights' lawyers sidestepping the planning system and demanding special treatment.

Neill added that whilst it's understandable that law-abiding citizens have to "jump through many hoops" to build in rural areas, "it’s wrong that certain groups have been given a green light to bypass those rules and concrete over the Green Belt when no-one’s looking".