Red tape and delays in the planning system are set to be tackled by new government plans outlined today in Kate Barker’s report into land use planning

Among a raft of recommendations to overhaul the planning system, economic adviser Barker has suggested that there be a review of previously protected land to ensure a sufficient supply of land for development.

Barker also makes recommendations to improve the responsiveness, efficiency and transparency of the planning system.

Barker’s report recommends various improvements to the planning system.

These include:

• Substantial rationalisation of national planning guidance to provide a clearer and more transparent national policy framework

• Improving local plan-making processes so plans can be drawn up in 18-24 months, instead of the present 36-42 months. This could save local authorities over £100m over a three-year period

• A more risk-based and proportionate approach to regulation with significant reduction in the paperwork required to support applications. This will help reduce private sector planning fees (estimated at £200m a year) and consultancy fees (estimated at £300m a year).

• Greater certainty of timescales with new, individually tailored delivery agreements between planning authorities and developers

• Faster processing of appeals. From 2008/09, all appeals should take place within six months

• A significant reduction in the number of cases suffering delays due to ministerial call-in, with 50% fewer call-ins from 2007

• In line with the findings of the Eddington Study of Transport, a radical overhaul of the planning system for significant infrastructure projects

• Allowing minor changes to commercial premises such as small wind turbines and solar panels without requiring planning permission

• Updating planning policy guidance on economic development for the first time in 14 years

• Ensuring plans take better account of relevant price and market signals such as land prices for different uses

• Encouraging empty property to be put into use and to incentivise the use of vacant, previously developed land

• Ensuring sufficient supply of land for the proportion of development that cannot take place in towns and cities.

Barker said: ‘The planning system has a profound impact on our quality of life, but the current system will come under increasing pressures in the coming decade.

‘Building on recent reforms, the recommendations in my report provide a comprehensive set of measures to ensure we have a planning system that is timely, transparent, flexible and responsive enough to meet the challenges that lie ahead.’