BPF boss welcomes move but says more resource on ground is needed to fulfil pledge

The government has said it wants to overhaul the country’s planning system in order to boost economic growth and productivity.

In papers accompanying chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement today, it said: “This means addressing barriers to investment such as the UK’s outdated planning system and lengthy delays to connect to the electricity grid; and making the economic regulatory framework more pro-investment.”

The government has pledged to cut the amount of time it takes for major infrastructure projects to get planning.


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The government says planning decisions need to be taken more quickly to speed up growth

“The government will progress the National Infrastructure Commission’s April recommendations on planning by delivering reforms to return the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime to the two and a half year average consenting time achieved in 2012,” it said.

It also pledged to overhaul the wider planning system to speed up decisions. “The government will strengthen the capacity of the planning system to deliver a better service for businesses, including introducing new premium planning services across England with guaranteed accelerated decision dates for major applications and fee refunds wherever these are not met.”

But British Property Federation (BPF) chief executive Melanie Leech said the planned reforms would only be achieved if resourced properly. “We know that two of the biggest blockers to delivering the homes, workplaces and vibrant communities needed across the country are an inefficient planning system and delivery of the right infrastructure,” she said.

“However, the planning system can only work more effectively, and be held to account for delivering swifter outcomes, if it is resourced properly. The planning system has been under-funded for at least a decade and its expertise in handling major projects hollowed out.

“We need a long-term planning skills strategy for local authorities to enable them to determine applications more quickly and make increasingly complex decisions that balance sustainability, heritage and local need.”

And Alistair Watson, UK head of planning and environment at law firm Taylor Wessing, said: “This supposed planning reform announced today won’t bring about the development and the infrastructure that the Government says it wants the real estate sector to deliver.  ‘Growth’ requires a well-resourced planning system.”