Prime Minister Tony Blair will fail to translate his spending spree into better public services unless the government overhauls the planning system, the Construction Products Association warned this week.
In a submission to the government ahead of its planning green paper, due in the autumn, CPA president Roy Harrison said business demanded changes to the system.

Harrison wrote to planning minister Lord Falconer, to complain that the planning system was "ill-equipped to deal with the needs of UK business in the 21st century. We need major reform, not tinkering at the edges".

The association said the government was not capable of dealing with large infrastructure projects such as Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, and it said the delays and costs associated with the planning application for T5 were a "disgrace".

The CPA said local authority planning departments should use more outside expertise to help when large numbers of applications were made, or when applications could not be dealt with internally.

The letter cited an example of a planning nightmare experienced by a CPA member. Materials group Castle Cement has spent £500,000 on plans to extend its Ketton Works Quarry in Rutland, but the extension is still to gain full approval three years after its application was submitted.