BPF launches 12-point planning manifesto to streamline application and approval process

Councils must reduce the burden of supporting information required from developers submitting planning applications, the British Property Federation (BPF) has said.

Reducing the amount of additional information required from developers by council planners is a key part of the BPF's 12-point planning manifesto, launched this morning.

Other recommendations include requiring councillors be trained in planning law and land economics before taking a role on local planning committees, in order to make decision-making more consistent.

In addition, the manifesto said that councils should be prepared to let developers pay the cost of processing planning applications to speed up the process.

Francis Salway
BPF chief Salway: "The system is immensely frustrating"

Francis Salway, chief executive of Land Securities and president of the BPF, said: “Of all of the things our members complain about, the main issue is always planning. The system is immensely frustrating for members.”

Under the present system, developers must supply a range of supplementary documents, such as environmental impact assessments, alongside planning applications.

Roger Hepher, head of planning and regeneration at estate agent Savills, said: “We need to reduce the information burden, which has been exacerbated since the spring of this year. Unfortunately, some planning departments are simply using these information requirements as an excuse to simply delay planning applications.”

On the issue of economics training for planners, Sue Wilcox, chair of the BPF planning committee - and also head of planning at Sainsburys - said: “We need to get officers to understand the dire consequences of planning delays. Schemes on the edge of viability can just fall away or can't get funding if they are delayed too long.”

Responding to the report, Steve Quartermain, chief planner at the Department for Communities & Local Government, said: “BPF's manifesto is a welcome contribution to the debate about how to shape a faster, fairer planning system that is fit for purpose and focuses on delivering outcomes for a better user experience.

“The government's reforms are already streamlining the system so it puts communities and better decision-making at the heart of planning.”