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Reduce Planning Bureaucracy

Comment 4th July 2010

We need to make serious reductions to the amount of paperwork that needs to be done in order to speed up and streamline the planning system.

I'm a year or so from graduating as an architect and have already studied planning. I've worked in both fields and the amount of paperwork needed just to get planning permission is incredible. The previous government, despite making some positive changes, have made it harder and more expensive to get planning and build.

Public sector planners have been allowed to request an ever increasing range of documents and reports from developers – tree surveys, bat surveys, traffic impact assessments, environmental impact assessments, design and access statements, statements of community consultation etc etc, all of which can cost thousands upon thousands from specialist consultants. In some cases, these are necessary, however all too often planners aren't sure of whether they are needed so will request anything vaguely applicable to cover their own backs, with no understanding of the costs and time delays involved.

In short: make planners justify all aditional documentation that they request.

Why does this matter?

When was the last time this country actually hit its housebuilding targets for the year, or even came within a few thousand homes of it? The government has promised to deliver more new homes to solve overcrowding, but I'm told by every older professional that the process has never been so long and arduous.

The process does not even deliver better buildings – with the huge increase in the cost of planning, these costs are simply trimmed off of the build materials and time spent on design.

If you want high quality buildings, simply raise space standards and ensure that planning departments employ design officiers with some architectural training. 

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