Tensions have emerged between chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown and Kate Barker, adviser to the Bank of England, over the pace of planning reform after this week’s publication of Barker’s interim report into the UK planning system.

The report, the final version of which will be published later this year, is an analysis of the impact of planning on the economy, and it points towards deregulation.

In the past month Brown and prime minister Tony Blair have promised further planning reform. But Barker said at the report’s launch that it was too soon for fresh legislation.

Robert Upton, secretary general of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “What is significant and worrying is the apparent division between Kate Barker and the Treasury. It is clear that Kate does not believe that major structural change is necessary or desirable.”

The British Property Federation has also urged the government not to conduct a fresh shake-up.

Kate does not believe major structural change is necessary

Robert Upton, of the RTPI

The report has been greeted with dismay by environmental campaigners including Friends of the Earth.

The report states that:

  • The policy to encourage the reuse of brownfield land and prevent out-of-town retail development is favouring big firms that can undertake decontamination work and have the resources to influence local council plans through lobbying.
  • Restricting out-of-town floorspace drives up rents in more central locations and puts them out of the reach of smaller retailers.
  • The government should take a bigger role in determining the location of infrastructure projects, like power stations.
  • The proportion of big schemes being turned down has nearly doubled since 1999.
  • Local plans fail to respond quickly enough to economic change.
  • The proportion of Britain protected against development is twice that in the other 20 states in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.