CBI calls on government to reform planning process for major schemes


The CBI has called on the government to reform the planning process to speed up the delivery of major infrastructure schemes, ahead of the Queen’s Speech later today.

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: “The government has talked a good game on infrastructure but the pace of delivery has been sluggish.

“Improving the pre-application phase of the planning process and moving towards a one-stop-shop for planning consents, should help to streamline the system and get much-needed projects over the start line and onto the home straight. But more than anything else we need to see bold political will to achieve this.”

Hall also called for reform of the Highways Agency: “Transforming the Highways Agency into a Government-owned company, with flexible five year budgets, would stop it from getting bogged down in stop-start cycles and enable it to act more strategically and deliver improved road networks.”

Hall also called for reforms to help SME suppliers: “Changes to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to tender for public sector contracts, including a one-off registration process are much-needed.

“Growing businesses rely on cash flow and are too often hampered by late payers, so we back a ‘comply or explain’ system for payment terms of more than 60 days.”

The RICS also published a wish list for the Queen’s Speech, including policy requests on garden cities, broadband provision, infrastructure and fracking.

RICS’ Queen’s Speech wish list

Garden cities

  • Garden cities have a part to play in addressing the housing deficit, but settlement selection needs to be based on robust criteria that balance housing need, job creation, transport links and a sense of community where people want to live and raise families.
  • All new settlements need to be considered in the context of the plan for balanced regional growth and the existing economic links between cities. The government will also need to give us details of what the garden city development corporations will look like.
  • Investors, communities and developers will need greater confidence from government that it has longer-term political vision for garden cities in the context of wider economic growth.


  • It is imperative that we get in place the means to deliver super-fast broadband to enterprise zones and get broadband infrastructure in place for rural communities to support rural business growth.
  • The government should introduce its promised communications bill in this session, with an amended Electronic Communications Code. This would be a particularly helpful measure for unleashing rural economic potential, rather than what is very much a cities-led growth agenda.


  • We welcome the changes mooted by government to reduce pre-application consultations as this will help get pipeline infrastructure plans moving at a greater pace.
  • Priority should be given to transport projects that can deliver the greatest economic benefit, rather than providing immediate funding to those that just happen to be ‘next in the queue’.
  • Government should ensure it engages with local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) on what schemes have the greatest potential to fuel regional growth.


  • Fracking in the UK is still in an embryonic phase of exploration, but RICS believes it has a role to play in a long-term and sustainable energy strategy. However, it will require geological and engineering expertise, investment, mitigation measures and measures to protect the environment.
  • Seismic testing of all potential fracking sites should be undertaken in order to understand the amount of recoverable shale gas and an assessment undertaken of the potential proportion of the shale gas resource that could be recovered safely, and at an affordable price.
  • In anticipation of any announcement in the Queen’s Speech on making it easier for companies to drill to find shale gas without landowner permission, RICS believes that in the interests of transparency, all landowners should be informed if horizontal fracking is going to take place under their land.
  • We have urged the government to achieve a clarified legal position and introduce a position of presumed consent for operators, but only if this is was linked to a guaranteed level of payment made to landowners and occupiers (similar to the community benefit fund approach). This should be balanced by safeguards to allow landowners and occupiers to still be able to bring claims in cases where actual surface loss is suffered.