- Available in: Print and PDF
- Published: January 1, 2007
Edited by Denise Chevin.
Published 2007 (ISBN: 1 905370 21 0) Price £9.95
The planning system is central to the quality of life in the UK. Its outcomes influence almost every aspect, from the quality of our urban environment to the size of homes we can afford, the employment opportunities available to us, and the amount of open countryside we can enjoy. The recent review of planning by Kate Barker shows how an optimum planning system can help deliver a stronger economy by providing greater certainty for investors about the likely shape of future development in a locality or region; deliver social objectives, aiding regeneration including protecting the vitality of town centres, and providing new housing; and help deliver our environmental objectives through protecting and enhancing the countryside and natural environment. But getting planning right involves making difficult and complex decisions. Growing levels of wealth leads to strong demand for travel, retail, recreation, and housing. A relatively high population density means that with so many people in a relatively confined space, decisions on land use and development will often affect many others. The uncertainty surrounding other key factors – climate change, demographic change and other resource pressures – increase the complexities still further. Managing the necessary trade-offs and ensuring decisions are informed by the relevant economic, social, environmental and resource considerations through proper consultation is time-consuming and can be costly. The challenge is therefore to improve efficiency without compromising the effectiveness of outcomes. Since 1997, the Government have reformed the planning system, but it is clear that further improvement is necessary. Surveys show that 69 per cent of businesses remain either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the planning system. The appeal system has become slower in recent years, with 34 per cent of planning inquiries taking over a year in 2005-06. Given that some of the most economically significant cases go to appeal this is a cause for concern. Around a third of local planning authorities don’t meet their target of 60 per cent of major applications being determined in 13 weeks. Transport and energy decisions can take several years. The Prime Minister recently said he believed the planning system was ‘hopelessly bureaucratic’. The recent Barker Review on planning makes recommendations to improve the responsiveness, efficiency and transparency of the planning system. This collection of essays by key experts in the field offers a wide ranging and thought provoking account of how the system could respond to the economic and social challenges posed by the Barker Report.