A further review of the UK’s planning system that aims to streamline a ‘cumbersome’ system was announced today by the government.
The review 'Planning Applications: a faster and more responsive system’ was launched by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Business Secretary John Hutton and Housing and Planning Minister Caroline Flint to examine what can disrupt the progress of an application from when it is submitted to when a decision is finally made.
Hutton said the slow progress of planning applications was one of the top five concerns for companies investing in the UK and there are ‘still slow and cumbersome parts of the process’ with delays occurring even after permission was granted.
The latest review will be carried out by former group chief executive of Barratt Developments David Pretty and Joanna Killian, chief executive of Essex County Council.
It will specifically look at reducing bottlenecks and delays and identifying new technologies to speed up the system.
It will also try and remove unnecessary paperwork and examine how statutory consultees like Highways Agency, Environment Agency and Natural England could become involved sooner in the application process.
Blears said: ‘By removing red tape and unblocking the bottlenecks that are slowing down applications, we can create a planning system for people that makes it easier to apply, easier to be heard and easier to be Green.’
Flint said that time and money would be saved by modernising the system and using new technology.
A major overhaul of the planning system is already under way through the Planning Reform Bill which is in Parliament and proposes an independent infrastructure planning commission combined with a single consent regime for projects of national significance such as power stations, reservoirs and airports. A further four bills are to be debated by MPs in Parliament.
Commentators in the property industry have said that further review could confuse the industry further as it faces the biggest overhaul of the UK planning system since the Second World War.
Stuart Robinson, executive director of Planning at CB Richard Ellis said: ‘This Government has brought us 'modernising planning', a planning Green Paper, a planning Act, two reviews by Kate Barker, a White Paper and now a new Planning Bill. The planning system can undoubtedly be improved, not least with better resources, but what it needs now more than anything is a period of stability without further reviews and reform.’