Thursday 24 April 2014

PM calls for planning changes to deliver infrastructure

In another interesting article (see below) the Prime Minister is calling for changes to the planning system.

Prime Minister David Cameron has stressed the need for further measures to streamline the planning system as he and Chancellor George Osborne highlighted that more than 200 projects in rail, road, local transport, flood defences, broadband, airport infrastructure and waste management are due to start construction in 2014 to 2015.

These include the Mersey Gateway Bridge, Sheffield Lower Don Valley and Exeter flood defence schemes and the A1 Barton to Leeming motorway upgrade, which will reduce journey times by 20 per cent.

Another 200 infrastructure projects are also due to be completed this year, including major roads such as the M6 J10A-13, Nottingham tram extension, Heathrow Terminal 2 upgrade and Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, which is currently the largest in construction anywhere in Europe.

“Simplifying the planning system, making it faster, is absolutely essential if we’re going to build that infrastructure that the country needs,” the PM said.

The PM’s comments came as Coalition plans for an Infrastructure Bill in the next Parliamentary session surfaced.

It has emerged that ministers are proposing to make it easier for energy companies to install pipe networks for unconventional gas projects without falling foul of existing trespass laws.

The PM has suggested that the Government might cut subsidies for land-based wind farms when it has "built enough to meet all our targets".

The proposed Infrastructure Bill would give the Highways Agency more powers and bring in planning changes to fast-track developments, according to the Financial Times.

Roger Milne

You can read more here.

Monday 14 April 2014

MPs to study planning policy framework

Following on from last week's posting, MPs are now going to study the planning policy framework.

Parliament has launched an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

This initiative has come from the all-party Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. MPs will scrutinise the operation of the NPPF during its first two years, concentrating on the NPPF’s impact on planning for housing, town centres and energy infrastructure.

The announcement came as the committee published a report it commissioned from Cambridge University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research to identify pinch points in the planning system affecting housing. It focused on analysing the published data and interviews with planners and with large and small house builders.

The findings included the following: large house builders generally thought the NPPF had been a positive change. They are, however, opposed to further changes in policy, calling instead for a focus on good practice.

An adopted local plan and a five-year land supply were essential for effective planning. The lack of a local plan made a local planning authority vulnerable to appeals. In some authorities there was an expectation that applications would go to appeal because elected members did not want to make planning decisions or because local opposition to new development was strong.

Many factors could contribute to delays. This included consultation with stakeholders, the attitude of some councillors, and a lack of resources and skills. Environmental matters in particular could be a considerable source of delay.

The planning process was effective when there was a positive culture within local authorities and a pro-development attitude from chief executives, planning officers and elected members.

The researchers also concluded that planning performance targets did not tell the whole story and could be misleading.

It could be interesting to see where this leads.

GBS Designs - Architectural Services

Monday 7 April 2014

Government review emphasises proactive planning

In another interesting article that has come my way, the government are proposing yet another review of planning.

What is interesting is that in the good-old-days things worked and yet successive governments of both flavours have tinkered with planning so many times that very few can remember what planning used to be like when it worked properly. When planners were treated as the highly skilled people they are rather than robotic functionaries - I half expect to meet Robo-Planner one day on site.

Planning is a skilled and difficult job and should only be tinkered with by those who are qualified and experienced to dos so.

Click below for the article.

GBS Designs - Chartered Building Engineers & Architectural Services