THE body responsible for conserving a 1,436sq km area of outstanding landscapes and heritage has said it does not recognise the government’s claims of systemic failings in the planning system and that proposals to radically overhaul the system could lead to “a planning vacuum” in the highly protected area.

A North York Moors National Park Authority report outlining its possible response to plans in the government’s Planning for the Future white paper states that “evidence for the criticisms of the current system is not there” and that the proposals would lead to a focus on increasing numbers of houses “to the detriment of the multiplicity of wider objectives that the planning system has sought to balance since its inception in 1947”.

The comments come a fortnight after the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority concluded the proposals would result in local communities having much less say, and at the wrong time, on the types and volume of development around them.

In a speech on the economy on in June, the Prime Minister said that “newt-counting delays” slowed down house building and that, in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the country would “build better and build greener but we will also build faster”.

The government is proposing to automatically grant outline planning permission in ‘growth areas’, presume in favour of development in ‘renewal areas’ and continue to require planning permission in ‘protected areas’. It is believed, though not stated in the proposals, that national parks will be included in the latter category.

The national park authority, which is set to submit its response to the proposals, says the government’s ambitions to remove various pillars of the planning system and long-standing concepts are not accompanied by alternatives, so it was difficult to provide constructive comment. The report states: “Our starting point would be that, as an authority we do not necessarily recognise many of the perceived failures of the current system detailed in the white paper.”

The report, which will be considered by the authority’s planning committee later this week, states the prime minister had made it clear the proposals were almost solely driven by the need to increase housing completions, but the volume of houses being completed in the North York Moors had been above historic levels for the past decade.

It states: “Our perception, and one bolstered by knowledge and work with other authorities, is that it may be the case that reforms are being driven by a perception of what is happening across the south of the country in terms of housing delivery rather than the north. We would therefore start by questioning the White Paper’s assumption that the current system is ‘ineffective’ – whilst there is undoubtedly room for improvements we would urge the Government to reject the simplistic notion that the current system is ‘broken’, and instead consider how it could be refashioned and reformed to retain its positives whilst removing it’s negatives in a way that avoids years of transition to a completely new system.”