Betts: ‘Planning not a barrier’

Leading figures in local government argued that there’s no evidence of the economic need for reform of the planning system at the Local Government Summit last week.

By Joshua.Chambers

25 Jan 2012

Speaking at the summit, which was organised by CSW publisher Dods, the chair of the communities and local government committee Clive Betts said: “We’ve just found that there’s absolutely no evidence that the planning system is hindering growth, and we’ve also put in an FOI [request] to the Treasury which has found the same thing.”

David Hill, the chief executive of Milton Keynes council, also questioned the evidence for planning reform. From his experience in councils, he said, “the real issue here is not the planning system but the mechanisms we have in place to finance infrastructure.” He added that “we need to look at the infrastructure provision before we start criticising the planning system”.

However, Phillip Rutnam, the director-general of business and skills at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, argued that the planning system does restrict economic growth. “I don’t accept that the issue is not the planning system,” he said. “It may not be the only issue – I certainly accept it’s not the only issue – but the weight of evidence available to us, during the growth review process, that the operation of the planning system is an issue has been very, very strong. I think there are real issues about the planning system itself.”

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