Tory planning green paper has industry up in arms

26 February 2010

The Conservatives' planning green paper, which introduces a presumption in favour of sustainable development but devolves more decision-making power to local authorities and communities, was this week met with concern by the industry.

Plans to scrap centrally-set housing targets and replace them with a system of financial incentives for local councils to build are at the heart of the green paper, Building reported.

But it is proposals to give neighbours the right to force the council to review a planning application which have caused an outcry in the industry.

The British Property Federation was among the most outspoken critics. Chief executive Liz Peace told Building: “House building is at its lowest level for generations and we need to kick-start construction without delay.

“Targets have failed and it’s clear we need to try out new innovative ways of making things happen. But while there are some excellent ideas here, third party right of appeals would be a recipe for chaos. It would clog up the system and undermine everything the Tories have said about being pro-development.”

BPF senior policy officer Jon Seager told Construction News: “We think this would be a disaster for the planning system’s speed and process.”

Building also reported scepticism from the CBI. John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “We welcome the presumption in favour of approving sustainable planning applications, and the financial incentives for local authorities to encourage development.

However, given the natural tendency of constituents to oppose development, it is doubtful that even these incentives are enough.”

Construction News reported concerns from the Home Builders Federation and the House Builders Association. The HBF claims the plans would “increase uncertainty for developers” while the HBA’s Roger Humber said: “The introduction of third-party rights of appeal is shocking – the abuses it creates have been exposed in Ireland.”

The green paper reiterated Tory plans to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and to scrap the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Construction News also highlighted plans in the green paper to speed up education planning, with applications for new schools treated the same way as major infrastructure projects with short planning inquiries, followed by a decision by the secretary of state.


I think they would be better off trying to get the economy back on its feet, instead of creating more ways of messing up the construction industry.

R J KIlduff , 26 February 2010

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