CONCERN IS growing that crucial Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions guidance on planning and car use could be watered down.
A source close to the government has indicated that a consultation document for a redraft of Planning Policy Guidance Note 13, due this month, may be delayed.
A 1994 Tory redraft focused the document on discouraging developments which increased car use. The new draft was expected to strengthen this.
But the source claimed that officials inside Number 10 are now vetting the document to make it more car - and voter - friendly.
Lynn Sloman, associate director of lobby group Transport 2000, expressed concern at the revelation. She said: 'It would be crazy not to take this opportunity to strengthen PPG13, because it would not be delivering John Prescott's objectives. You need this strengthened to allow him to do his job.'
Ove Arup and Partners carried out research into the requirements of PPG13 between 1995 and 1998. Associate director Adrian Gurney said the exercise had shown the need for a more strategic link between transport planning and the construction of major developments.
Despite the short-term nature of political horizons, he said, the government should be able to 'hold the course which they have started on'.
British Roads Federation chief executive Richard Diment said he expected stronger powers for local authorities in the redrafted guidance.
A DETR spokesman insisted the document had not been delayed and would be published 'shortly'.