My question yesterday as a supplementary to an oral question on green belt protection:

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con):Will my right hon. Friend take steps to diminish planning inspectors’ powers over those who are democratically elected?

Mr Pickles: My hon. Friend must have come across some grumpy planning inspectors. By and large, they are there to introduce the national planning policy framework, and to ensure that decisions are made in accordance with it. Local democratically elected representatives have a duty to look to the well-being of their constituents not only now, but in future. There must always be a balance, but the green belt remains very safe.

At a conference fringe event a year ago, I set out a better way to protect and use the land based on covenant, property rights and contract, highlighting the futility of long-term land use planning by the state. It seems that will be yet another long journey.

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