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Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, responding to the National Planning Policy Framework announcement, said:

"The Government’s planning reforms could cause widespread delay and chaos with many developments held up while the courts decide how to interpret this radically new and untested approach. This would both harm the house building we desperately need and put our countryside and green spaces at risk of unwanted development.

"We all want growth, but the fact is that economic success is about much more than the planning system. The Government should be putting their efforts into producing a strategy for jobs and growth instead of making ill-thought through changes to long-standing planning policy.

"The revised version has conceded Labour’s demands for protection for playing fields and for a revival of Labour’s successful town-centre first policy. But its proposals on use of brownfield land are too weak and the transitional arrangements are rushed and worrying.”

Roberta Blackman Woods, Labour’s Shadow Planning Minister, said:

“In order to prevent the National Planning Policy Framework leading to chaos in our planning system we need stronger guidance on transitional arrangements than that which is currently in the document”

On playing fields, Clive Efford MP, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, said:

“We cannot allow a return to the situation we saw from 1979 to 1997 when the last Tory Government allowed around 10,000 playing fields to be sold off.

“The Government has been forced to climb down and keep the protections against the development of playing fields. Where there is a potential loss of a playing field there must be a specific requirement for replacement facilities to be provided and the statutory consultees must retain their powers to protect our sports facilities for future generations.  It is these sorts of protections that were introduced by the last government and which saw the number of playing fields lost drop to just 226 between 1998 and 2010.

“The Government must reassure groups like the FA, the Sport & Recreation Alliance and many others who have been vocal in their criticism of the lack of protection for playing fields and facilities in the draft that his warm words in the statement will provide meaningful protection on the ground.”

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