It’s back to the future this week as readers reflect on whether or not the Localism Bill will deliver what it promises and if BIM heralds a bright new future

A little guidance, please

I read with interest your two articles of 13 May regarding the much heralded (or is that maligned?) Localism Bill - “Businesses to make local development plans” (page 10) and “Credit where it’s due” (page 3).

The government must clarify how the new planning regime will be funded, the requirements of pre-application consultations (including the burden on developers to have regard to responses received from consulted parties) and the extent to which councils will be accountable if they do not co-operate with neighbouring councils on planning strategies.

Until the government publishes detailed guidance on these and other issues relating to how the neighbourhood planning regime will operate, we can only hope that there is sufficient detail in the new framework that developers do not have to formulate strategies in a planning vacuum.

In the interim, the amendments that have been made to allow local business to engage in the planning process are undoubtedly welcome. Developers and businesses will, however, need to embrace the new system to ensure that we don’t end up with the same problems we have seen with the local development framework process, with some local authorities having an incomplete and piecemeal set of plans for years to come.

The other danger is that the increased level of public consultation, earlier in the planning process, and the need for neighbourhood plans to be approved by local referendums will take time and be costly for developers. That cost must be outweighed by the savings of not having to deal with challenges later.

There is a need to cut regulation, but it is essential to retain clear guidance so that the outcome of the planning process can be predicted with certainty - failing which the much-needed economic stimulus developers bring to the local and consequently national economy may not materialise.

James Nadin, partner, Penningtons Solicitors

BIM-ing marvellous …

Great that Morrell is helping set the pace with building information modelling (27 May, page 20). I was at Precast 2011 the other week where I heard David Philp of Balfour Beatty (mentioned in the article) talking about BIM from the contractor’s perspective; interesting how they saw it as being more about a transformation agenda for integration and not just a new technology set. In my business, we are starting to see the benefits that BIM can gain in terms of real and meaningful outputs for our clients.

Tom Bracewell, via

BIM-ing ridiculous …

Your article “BIM could cost QSs £2k per person” (27 May) operates on some odd assumptions:

  • That an average engineer and/or architect would need a similar amount of training for BIM as would a QS. Surely more.
  • That we could be BIM proficient in a few years - starting now.

Is somebody going to decide what “BIM” actually is? It would be a good start.

Jennifer Kirby via

Let’s hear it for BIM

I disagree with the comments on the article “BIM could cost QSs £2k per person”. The UK is lagging way behind on this [BIM]. I also don’t think the costs involved in training will be as expensive as the article suggests.

Some of the plus points being that overlap issues are eradicated, costs can be very quickly updated in line with design changes and the timeline can be amended as well. Not to mention the increases in efficiency as there will be no costly repetition of data between design team members. The ability to collaborate in real time will ultimately (in my humble view) be the real driver that will eventually drag our industry into the 21st century.

Yes, there will be costs but these costs will be a drop in the ocean compared with the benefits.

Yosof Ewing, via