Contrary to what Terence Blacker says (5 August), the status of the countryside is unchanged in the draft National Planning Policy Framework. The Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest continue to be protected, and for other areas it is for local councils to decide what areas should be included in their plans for development - exactly as it is at the moment, with the exception that local councils’ views cannot be counter-manded by the previous government’s unelected regional assemblies.
In addition, recognising that not all valued green space is within the countryside, we are creating a new designation to protect local green spaces of particular importance to local communities. Further, ancient woodlands continue to have robust protection in our revised framework.
I strongly believe that we can reform the planning system to make it more accessible for people and communities without undermining the protection of our valuable local environment.
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
Minister for Decentralisation and Cities
_ _Department for Communities and Local Government