Prince Charles issues warning over 'uncontrolled urban sprawl'
The Prince of Wales has launched an outspoken attack on ‘uncontrolled urban sprawl’.
The heir to the throne warned it was one of the greatest challenges facing modern society and raised concerns about the lack of ‘proper thought’ going into mass development.
His comments are likely to be seized on by opponents of the Government’s controversial planning reforms. The National Trust has warned the moves could lead to Los Angeles-style urban spread that would destroy the green belt.
But aides of the Prince insisted he was talking in general terms and was not launching an attack on the reforms.
A well-known critic of modern architecture, Charles was speaking at his Foundation for the Built Environment in Shoreditch, East London.
He told former students: ‘The greatest challenge is mass urbanisation on a vast scale, without any proper thought to what the future will hold.’
A Clarence House spokesman said: ‘His speech had nothing to do with the change to planning laws. He was speaking about putting people at the heart of developments and was speaking in general terms.’
But the Prince has long been known as a supporter of traditional architecture, famously describing a proposed extension to the National Gallery in the 1980s as a ‘monstrous carbuncle.’
Last year, the Prince criticised plans for the Chelsea Barracks, also in London, as ‘insane’. The £3billion scheme was abandoned shortly afterward.
Alumni from the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment are helping to design the latest phase of Poundbury – the Prince’s model village in Dorset.
His comments came days after Lord Rogers of Riverside claimed that under the Government’s plans big cities could merge into one enormous urban sprawl.
The respected architect said the reforms were fundamentally flawed and called on ministers to make more of an effort to improve towns and cities.
‘Cities and the countryside are two sides of the same coin – we need to conserve both,’ he said. ‘The reason we want beautiful hills and scenery is because we often live in cities and see them as our safety valve and escape.’
Mr Cameron is facing a bitter backlash over his reforms from MPs as well as countryside campaigners.
The most significant change is that local authorities would adopt a default position of answering ‘yes’ to all proposals for developments.
Last week, MPs on the environmental audit committee warned the reforms were ‘contradictory and confusing’.
But ministers claim the new rules are a vital part of plans to kick start economic growth.
The proposals represent the biggest change in planning law in 50 years and aim to ‘dramatically’ simplify the planning system by slashing 1,000 pages of policy to just 52.