Saturday, 10 September 2011

New Planning Laws: Tories Given Millions By Property Developers

The Conservative Party has received millions of pounds in donations from developers who stand to benefit from the Government’s controversial planning reforms according to The Daily Telegraph. Dozens of property firms have given a total of £3.3million to the party over the past three years, including large gifts from companies seeking to develop rural land.

Developers are also paying thousands of pounds for access to senior Tories through the Conservative Property Forum, a club of elite donors which sets up “breakfast meetings” to discuss planning and property issues.

The disclosures are likely to provoke a new “cash-for-access” row and will give rise to fears that planning policies could have been influenced by powerful figures from the property industry.

The new plaaning guidance states that there should be a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, which campaigners have warned would give developers “carte blanche”.

Some of the Tories’ biggest donors are from the property world. David and Simon Reuben, billionaires who own Millbank Tower in Westminster, have given almost £500,000 over the past decade, while Terence Cole, a London-based developer, donated almost £300,000. IM Properties, which is expanding Birch Coppice Business Park, near Tamworth, Staffs, has given around £1million since 2009.

A senior Tory MP, who did not wish to be named, accused the Chancellor, George Osborne, of “shoe-horning in” the presumption in favour of development in a bid to stimulate the economy.

He said: “This is a clear example of localism being hijacked. Developers will have state licence to print money and we will see a proliferation of identikit suburbs springing up in the countryside.”

Some were surprised when Chancellor George Osborne entered the debate last week in the face of opposition from the National Trust, English Heritage and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Perhaps we now know why.

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