Chairman says housebuilders want planning reform to enable them to grab more greenfield sites

The chairman of the National Trust has accused housebuilders of conning business leaders who signed a letter backing planning reform

Simon Jenkins attacked housebuilders in a strongly worded column in The Times today.

He said claims that England’s planning system put a break on UK business was “self-serving rubbish.”

“They [the signatories] have been conned by a group of housing developers eager to grab some attractive greenfield sites for their portfolios,” he said.

Jenkins said there was no evidence that a shortage of rural land was hilding back the economy. He said commercial land vacancy of 14% and landbanks of 330,000 homes meant there was a surplus of development land.

He said building was being held back by low demand rather than lack of land.

Jenkins warned that England would look like parts of Jersey, Portugal and Ireland if current planning laws were swept away. He said there would be “bungalows and buildings spattered in every field, advertising hoardins, pylons and wind turbines along main roads, mini-malls outside towns, and boarded up town centres.”