The Planning Pendulum

The 2012 budget demonstrates the determination of the coalition government to build our way out of recession. Long forgotten are the Conservative manifesto statements to frustrate garden grabbing and concreting over the countryside. 

What is not up for debate is the UK will need to start accepting that development, no matter how controversial, is coming. The presumption in favour of development sounds shocking, but in reality it is no different to the system we currently enjoy, or despise. This swing of the pendulum to a positive outlook on development appears that it will allow planning permission to be obtained more easily but it does not reflect the many hurdles that developers have to overcome to justify development.

Planning minister Greg Clarke said  "If there are reasons, for example if it destroys the environment, if it builds on the green belt, if it builds outside a town centre if it’s a commercial premises when you want to keep town centres thriving, then that would not be sustainable, it would not be in the publicinterest and so it should not go ahead."

Many sites have been stymied despite obvious potential, but bureaucracy has prevented their development. Three terms of power with New Labour gave the bureaucrats far too much investment and time to meddle with a system that needed simplification, not new layers of further control. Mr. Osborne’s statement to replace 1,000 pages of planning guidance with just 50 pages must be welcomed.

Costly Section 106 agreements have negated some developments from being viable to the detriment of the economy, and sometimes blighted local areas that have had to exist in a period of inactivity and uncertainty. Any step, no matter how small, to facilitate development and improvement should be welcomed.

The CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) have reacted negatively to Mr Osborne’s proposal, when in fact his push for development and house building is centred on urban areas whilst understanding the desperate need for development in more rural areas. Whitehall sources say they believe there are sufficient assurances for green campaigners in the new plans, but say it will still be an "unashamedly pro-growth document" 

Contrary to popular belief we still live in a very green country. Whilst governments in France and Germany have embraced and welcomed development and investment we resist it but still demand our government finds funds for our much-loved services and health system. We can’t have it all. Mr Osborne, in his Budget speech, addressed the excessive regulation and its hindrance to growth. “Global businesses have diverted specific investments that would have created hundreds of jobs in some of the most deprived communities in Britain to other countries … because they couldn’t get planning permission here.  That is unacceptable".  

Simon Nunn, from the National Housing Federation, said the new regulations were a step in the right direction: "There’s a housing crisis in the country, we’re only building half the homes that we need. Planning is part of the jigsaw and I think that a positive planning framework combined with theright investment framework will help us." 

What the public needs is a better understanding of theirimmediate environments and what can, and can’t be developed. DevAssist pre-warns property buyers what development risks remain unexploited. It also exposes development opportunities, which not only create windfall cash opportunities for those clients but can help facilitate development and the financial benefits to the wider community and economy. (www.dev-assist.co.uk) 

So we will see what the National Planning Policy Framework has in store for us but we can safely predict one thing, development is becoming fashionable again and whether you like or not, it is coming. 
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