An Englishman’s home is his castle

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IN the Observer (January 17) Bernard McGinley quotes Cllr Daniel’s statement: “People have the right to develop their land: that’s basically what it says in the planning literature” and describes this as a ‘strange summary of a century of planning legislation’.

The need to apply for permission to develop land or property was first introduced in the UK in the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 - rather less than a century ago.

That law allowed permission for any development which ‘did not cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance’. In 1991 this was changed to a ‘presumption in favour of the development plan, unless material considerations indicated otherwise’. The present Government’s National Planning Policy Framework refers to a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ and Government ministers have made it clear that they want to prevent local planners stopping development.

It all goes back to the idea that an Englishman’s home is his castle: a property owner should be able to do whatever they want with their property unless there are sound reasons why the local planning authority should prevent them from doing so – principally in the interests of wider society. The planning acts took away rights from people and it was considered only right that that power should be used sparingly.

The basic presumption in favour of development goes right back to the start of post-war planning so Cllr Daniel was correct in his assertion. Unfortunately Mr McGinley and others who comment in your pages and on your website ignore the requirement for planners (professional or elected members) to follow the law.

It is also significant that many of the developments referred to in their criticisms were actually refused by local planners but allowed on appeal.


Vice-Chairman of Planning Committee

Hastings Borough Council