A GROUP charged with conserving the heritage and landscapes of a national park is set to urge the Government “not to chuck out the baby with the bathwater” in its proposed radical reform of the planning system.

Members of the North York Moors National Park Authority said while they agreed elements of the planning system needed reform, numerous changes outlined in the Government’s white paper Planning For The Future would doom the highly protected area to long-term damage.

The authority’s director of planning, Chris France, told its planning committee that the prime minister had signalled his intention to “tear down” the planning system and replace it with a faster way of undertaking the process, but the white paper lacked detail on how a new system would work.

Mr France said: “This isn’t simply another government tweak to the planning system that we have all become accustomed to over the last ten years.”

He said the white paper blamed the planning system entirely for the country’s housing shortage crisis, but did not put forward any evidence to support the claim.

Mr France said the authority did not accept that the planning system was broken. He added: “It has missed an important point that planning is not simply about housing delivery, important though that is. In our case planning is used to deliver for the nation national park purposes whilst enabling us to deliver locally-needed development for our communities.”

However, Mr France said there were elements of the white paper that the authority wanted to support, including engaging more people in the development of a Local Plan for the area and putting extra resources into enforcement of unauthorised developments.

The meeting was told the authority would be left having to take planning decisions based only on national policies.

The authority’s deputy chairman, Malcolm Bowes, described that part of the proposals as “a nonsense”, but added the white paper featured some potential improvements.

He said some of the support for the white paper stemmed from the perceived benefits for areas designated for growth and renewal, but protected areas had been overlooked. He added the proposed transfer of power over planning decisions from democratically-elected members to central government had not been thought through.

The meeting heard a consensus that the proposed changes were far too sweeping. Member Alison Fisher said: “The trouble is this proposal seems to want to chuck the baby out with the bath water.”

David Jeffels, longest-serving member of the authority, called on members to lobby their MPs and local members of the House of Lords over the potential long-term impact of the proposals on the national park, saying “planning should be for the people”.

He said: “The impression you get is almost anything goes under the new system.”