Chambers of commerce demand planning system revamp

20 Sep 01
Business leaders are demanding that the government keeps its promise to overhaul radically the 'failing' planning system in its forthcoming green paper.

21 September 2001

In a report sent to Transport, Local Government and the Regions Secretary Stephen Byers on September 20, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) attacks the current planning system, accusing it of failing business and the wider community.

The BCC, which represents 135,000 businesses across Britain, calls on the government to appoint a national planning commissioner to oversee reform of a 'slow and bureaucratic system, burdened by excessive policy from above and delivered with various degrees of quality below'.

Its recommendations included whittling down the 'unacceptable' number of planning guidance documents; giving responsibility for regional planning guidance to regional development agencies; and clarifying the role of the mayor of London in planning decisions. The report says firms are currently uncertain about which applications are deemed 'strategic' and subject to mayoral interest.

Kirsty McHugh, BCC senior policy adviser, said planning practices are in urgent need of reform. 'We too often hear of planning decisions that fly in the face of local and national economic objectives and of regeneration opportunities that are missed,' she said.

'The only answer to planning problems is fundamental reform. There needs to be a root-and-branch overhaul of all aspects of the planning system, reducing the complexity of policies at national level, clarifying the confused responsibilities in the regions and improving the variable quality of service delivered at local level.'


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