“It’s a truth universally acknowledged” to borrow a phrase, that Britain’s planning system is broken. Problem is nobody knows how to fix it, so here’s my 10 pence worth.
Increase Planning Fees – there you go – that’s going to be popular! But hear me out.
Britain needs a professional Planning Agency, properly resourced with its own budget independent of Local Authority funding. There is no way the public purse is going to finance that and nor should it – it has to be funded from planning fees. And planning fees will increase as a result BUT and it’s a big BUT, an independent Agency run on professional lines would have professional service standards and the interminable delays would be driven out.
The argument against a Professional Planning Agency is that it would be under central control and lose the link with local politics. But that need not be the case, a substantial amount of planning work is administrative. Reviewing applications for compliance with Strategic Plans and Planning Legislation, reference and negotiation with statutory bodies, reviewing planning pre-commencement conditions, to name but a few. These in theory have service standards, however in practice those standards are impotent. We need to divorce decisioning from administration and at least resource the administration properly so that service standards can be achieved.
And the cost – well it will cost more, the question is whether the efficiency gains are worth the cost – I believe they would be but would welcome stakeholder feedback.
Stuart Parfitt, Managing Director, BLG Development Finance