HC Deb 13 March 1997 vol 292 c288W
Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his policy in respect of the listed buildings in the green belt. [20608]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

National policy for green belts is set out in our planning policy guidance note 2 and for listed buildings in planning policy guidance note 15. PPG2 confirms the importance which the Government attach to green belts, and maintains the general presumption against "inappropriate" development within them—as detailed in PPG2. Very special circumstances are needed to outweigh this presumption. The Government also attach a high priority to protecting the historic environment and to ensuring that the special architectural or historic interest of listed buildings is fully recognised. PPG15 makes clear that, in general, the best way of ensuring the upkeep of historic buildings is to keep them in active use; and PPG2 advises that suitable reuse of a building is to be preferred to redevelopment where it is of architectural or historic interest.

Where a change of use, extension or alteration to a listed building in the green belt would be essential for, or contribute significantly to, ensuring a viable future for the building or for maintaining it in good order, this could constitute or contribute to the "very special circumstances" which can justify inappropriate development in the green belt. Proposals would have to be of a high standard of design to complement or enhance their surroundings; and any proposals would need listed building consent as well as planning permission.

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