Readers are juggling pros and cons this week, looking at planning reforms, mortgage guarantees and the long- and short-term impact of BIM

Infrastructure dilemma

Your story “Planning biggest barrier to infrastructure jobs” (9 September, page 12), illustrates a difficult dilemma. On the one hand you have the industry saying that planning delays and costs are holding up development in infrastructure. No doubt this type of lobbying, combined with criticism regarding lack of ideas in terms of delivering growth, influenced the government with its recent controversial planning reforms. Yet constant changes to planning reforms are part of the problem.

It would be interesting to hear from the business leaders interviewed what issues are causing the delays in terms of planning decisions and extra costs and use this as a starting point towards a solution that helps growth in infrastructure investment.

Rod McLennan, via

Mortgage insurance is the key

Regarding your story “Planning reforms linked to creation of 200,000 jobs” (5 September,, it would be nice to see a boom, but in the next three years mortgage finance will be a much more important driver than planning reforms.

Beyond three years I agree that house building levels will be driven by planning. But in the short term builders will not build unless there are buyers and there won’t be buyers unless deposits are lowered. The banks won’t lower deposit requirements while they are strengthening their balance sheets unless they get government guarantees like mortgage insurance.

Mark Oliver, H+H UK, via

You need BIM now

Much has been made of the introduction of BIM to the UK construction sector. Views have ranged from championing the model as a technological leap forward to questioning the high training costs and threat to project management consultancies. From a professional consultancy perspective, we think BIM should be embraced.

There has been criticism from architects that this is a way of restoring the balance of power from ambitious project managers. But this shouldn’t be about winning ownership back on a project. BIM should be about promoting the needs of the client, taking a holistic approach to the development of a project. When cost and environmental considerations are priorities, it’s imperative we have a system such as BIM to cut out material waste as well as speeding up efficiencies, while allowing parties to learn about how the others contribute to the project - resulting in a better product and knowledge for use in future builds.

BIM shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the work of any consultant. The technological developments are impressive but the human element will always be needed. A project manager understands the risks involved and can factor this into the process. BIM should be seen as tool to supplement their work.

The sector has suffered heavily during the financial crisis with only those consultancies that are willing to diversify their business model who survive, and so not planning for BIM in terms of investing in the training now will be crippling in the long term.

Steven Barker, chairman, Robinson Low Francis