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Let’s work together

Our Managing Director, Rob Allaway, provides some thoughts on the planning system below.

The planning system in the UK is considered by many to be adversarial with developers and landowners on the opposite side of the fence from local planning authorities and often local communities. It’s not a recipe for efficient and successful planning.

I sense that the gap has widened over recent years. I see increased rhetoric in national and local media – and vitriolic remarks being made in council meetings and industry events. This helps to create barriers and inefficiency and, ultimately, poorer planning.

Why has it got worse? Well, perhaps a lot can be attributed to national planning policy after 2010. The removal of regional planning policy left a vacuum that was filled by the NPPF and the requirement to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. This has left many authorities on the defensive and planning by appeal.

Developers are often blamed for land banking, opportunistic development and taking advantage of the system. Local authorities are criticised for failing to have Local Plans in place and poor performance when dealing with applications.

The true situation is always more complicated. Whilst the quality of performance and practice will always vary, developers are working within the regulatory system that they are given and local authorities are working with the diminishing resources that they can muster.

There is a need to build houses in this country and develop a sustainable economy like never before. Both the public and private sector have a responsibility to respond and we need to work together and deal with planning proactively – even when Local Plans are not yet firmly in place.

Please excuse the generalisation and I appreciate that there are many examples of successful working between the public and private sector. However, in order to deliver successful communities across the country and a strong post-EU economy, all sides need to increase levels of mutual understanding, open dialogue and collaborative working. It has to be better for all of us.