News

March 30, 2012 - paulak

Planning law reforms will spur growth, say business groups

Business groups have welcomed the Government’s overhaul of the planning laws, hailing the changes as a spur for economic growth and new jobs.

In the biggest shake-up of planning for more than 50 years, the new Planning Policy Framework follows draft proposals, published last year, which were strongly opposed by conservation groups amid criticism they amounted to a “developers’ charter”.

Following consultation, the new, amended framework — which will guide council development decisions and will come into effect immediately — includes specific references to encouraging development on brownfield, or previously developed sites. It also promotes sustainable development as a key theme in planning decisions.

Calling the new regulations “pro-growth”, the Government insisted they would speed up development by enabling quicker decision-making. More than 1,000 pages of regulation have been trimmed to around 50. 

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said that he was pleased that “pages of weighty and unnecessary rules” had been cut out, and that Britain “needed to get building again”.

“Being able to develop new shops, houses and factories is crucial to delivering economic growth, and too often planning regulations have prevented that,” he added.

British Chamber of Commerce director general John Longworth agreed, and said that “no one in business wanted to concrete over the countryside”, but the current system had discouraged “even the most modest expansion, by tying companies up in red tape, heaping costs upon owners and discouraging firms from applying in the first place.”

In contrast, the new framework would give businesses greater clarity when looking to expand, he said, while prioritising sustainable development at the same time.  

“This presumption [of sustainable development] will encourage growth while retaining the environmental safeguards that have long been part of the British planning system,” he added.

John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry also welcomed the new guidelines which he said would result in local councils having to work more effectively with local business.

“The new framework hands the responsibility back to local communities to decide where new homes, businesses and infrastructure to support them should be built,” he said. “So the onus is on local authorities to work with people and businesses in their area to develop suitable plans as quickly as possible.”