Planning rules could damage the South Downs National Park claim

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PETWORTH’S MP Nick Herbert has warned a proposed planning deregulation could lead to inappropriate developments that would damage the character of the South Downs National Park.

The MP made his comments in a House of Commons debate on national parks, called by Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston, part of whose constituency lies in the Dartmoor National Park.

The debate was called in response to a government proposal to allow the conversion of up to three dwellings, or the replacement of existing farm buildings, without planning permission.

Mr Herbert warned the proposals could lead to ‘the creation of a suburbia ... and inappropriate development – new haciendas and gin palaces – instead of maintaining the character of the parks and the landscape, which was precisely why they were created’.

A number of Conservative MPs, many representing constituencies that lie partly or wholly within national parks, spoke against the proposals. Concerns have also been raised by the South Downs Society and the Campaign for National Parks.

Responding, planning minister Nick Boles said he recognised ‘national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are so called for a reason and have a special status’, adding it was important to think hard and listen to the arguments.

“Although I cannot anticipate the government’s final position,” he said the government had heard the arguments loud and clear.