Poll shows that inflexibility in planning regulations could obstruct funding

Proposals to boost the British and European economies through spending on public infrastructure projects could collapse because of difficulties in obtaining planning permission in certain countries.

The findings were taken from a poll of planning regulations in 18 European countries.

Law firms across the continent said inflexibility and delays were overwhelmingly the biggest problems in obtaining planning consent in almost all countries.

The UK and Germany were shown to have the shortest delays on routine projects, at around three months. This was contrasted with Czech Republic, where delays can reach up to seven years, between one and two years in Hungary, Sweden, Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia and around six months in most other countries.

Planning partner at international business law firm LG, Stephen Turnbull said planning decisions take a long time because of the “involvement most states try to give their citizens and others in new projects.”

He added: “It's hard to see how recent proposals to kick-start the economy with spending on infrastructure can circumvent this, without losing much of the democratic element built into the system.

“Even in the UK, where a new fast-track system is now in place at the cost of much accountability, there could still be delays as aggrieved individuals and groups seek redress in the courts via judicial review instead.”