Gridlock shock

Plans to overhaul planning laws could lead to motorway gridlock, if Whitehall proposals to build business parks near motorway junctions are given the green light.

The influential environmental group Campaign for Better Transport has claimed that too many out of town developments could lead to a proliferation of bottlenecks.

'Far from helping economic growth, our research shows that the draft planning framework could actually end up damaging the economy through increased congestion as new office developments move out of town centres and spring up next to motorways and other big roads,' said Stephen Joseph, the Campaign’s chief executive.

'No one wants to be stuck in bank holiday style jams twice a day just to do a day’s work.

'We need to encourage new development, but not at any price and the expense of delays and congestion on transport networks needs to be fully considered when planning new developments.'

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, agreed. 'This sounds about right,' he said. 'We already have a major problem with junction capacity on our motorways.

'There is a forecast of 10 per cent population growth in some areas and unless we have a proper road network with decent capacity these kind of problems will happen.'

But a government spokesperson defended the plans, saying: 'The bizarre, exaggerated hypothesis put forward by this group completely overlooks the reality of the reforms being proposed. The National Planning Policy Framework maintains strict protections and rules and makes clear that only sustainable development will be allowed.'

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