Planning reform is not just about money

Nicholas Boys Smith

There are other ways to ease the pressures on planning capacity, says Nicholas Boys Smith of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

A consistent theme in our extensive evidence reviews was that planning teams and their advisors are under sharp resource pressure. National Audit Office analysis of team budgets shows why: they fell by between 24% and 46% between 2010 and 2014. And this is exacerbated by the frequently uneven nature of workflows.

One local authority official observed: “Where an applicant or developer has taken on a large site but doesn’t have the in-house skills or experience to manage the process, this puts a huge pressure on the local planning authority for resourcing and phasing.”

This has implications not just for speed – a constant complaint of developers. It also has implications for quality on matters of design, landscape and conservation.

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