HC Deb 22 January 1992 vol 202 cc203-4W
Mr. Hunter

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the revision of planning policy guidance note 7 will be published; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young

My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales have today published a revised planning policy guidance note 7, entitled "The Countryside and the Rural Economy". This replaces the first edition of PPG 7, published in 1988.

We are grateful to the many bodies and individuals who responded to the consultation draft of the new PPG. Lists of their submissions are being placed in the Library of the House, where copies will be available on request.

The new PPG emphasises the importance the Government attach to the countryside and the health of the rural economy. It reminds planning authorities of the need for a balanced approach to rural development and conservation. The advice takes forward the environmental strategy in our White Paper "This Common Inheritance" and sets out policies for planning in the countryside in the 1990s.

Development is necessary to sustain the rural economy. It needs to be integrated with protection of the countryside for the sake of its beauty, the diversity of its landscape, the wealth of its natural resources and its ecological, agricultural and recreational value. Planning authorities need to weigh these considerations, paying particular regard to special designations such as national parks.

The PPG gives greater protection to national parks, implementing the new policy on major developments there which we announced yesterday in response to the national parks review. Such developments should only take place in exceptional circumstances, after being shown to be in the public interest.

Among other things, the new PPG also emphasises new directions and opportunities in the rural economy, as employment in traditional industries shrinks; points out that the re-use of rural buildings can reduce pressure for new building in the open countryside; advises on stricter planning controls over the siting and appearance of agricultural buildings, which came into effect this month; strengthens guidance on new dwellings in the countryside for agricultural workers, to counter abuse.