Property Agency

The Planning Bill: spotlight welcome but focus misses the obvious

The forthcoming Planning Bill as outlined in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month (11 May) flags up the importance of planning to the economic re-build post-pandemic but fails to address the main obstacles to delivery.

That’s the view of professional planners at Eddisons incorporating Barker Storey Matthews who in reviewing the purpose and benefits of the Planning Bill – as outlined in the latest speech – point to the resourcing of local authorities and the valuing of planning skills as the key to delivery.

Eddisons planners have a number of concerns and counterpoints in response to the ‘headlines’ of the Bill. Not the least of which is its focus on housing.

On matters of more emphasis on design and faster planning permissions, Eddisons agrees that these are important considerations. However, Eddisons believes that the way in which the Government proposes to address these through the Bill only builds on codes and policies – many of which are already in place.

According to Kate Wood, Chartered Planner and Director, Eddisons, the Planning Bill, as outlined presently, looks set to be another missed opportunity to unlock the planning system to the benefit of all interested parties and communities alike.

She said, “While acknowledging that housing is the entry point of lay audiences’ understanding of planning, it is disappointing that there no equivalent focus on employment development.

“Jobs and housing go hand in hand. Key to unlocking economic prosperity through development is a realistic and robust approach to land and planning.

“This approach can only be realised by addressing the obstacles the planning system itself puts in the way of delivery.

“This is, chiefly, failure to resource local authority planning departments to the point where they can work with their communities and the private sector to deliver development in a timely fashion.

“Now, more than ever, post-pandemic, all those in the planning and development professions need to be resourced to deliver what is needed.

“However, as it stands, the proposed Planning Bill looks set to avoid the heart of the matter in concentrating on regulation rather than valuing and resourcing the skills of planners – to the detriment of actual outcomes.”

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