Planning system “poorly functioning”, says GL Hearn

The average submission to determination time for a major planning application is 27 weeks in Greater Manchester, more than double the Government target of 13 weeks, according to the fourth Annual Planning Survey from the British Property Federation and GL Hearn.

However the volume of applications determined has increased by 19% in Manchester compared to 2013/14, while in London it has fallen by 26%.

Both developers and local authorities surveyed across the country identified a lack of resource within planning departments as a key barrier to development. Around 65% of applicants believed higher planning fees might be part of a potential solution, helping local authorities shorten waiting times and improve performance.

Half of local authorities surveyed said they felt the planning system was not operating as well as it was in 2010.

In line with diminishing land opportunities in the capital, densification is a more prevalent priority for applicants in London at 47%, compared to 14% of applicants in the North West.

Shaun Andrews, head of investor and developer planning at GL Hearn, said: “In order to get Britain building again, we need to get Britain planning. Development activity is critical for our economy, not least in order to tackle the urgent housing crisis. This year’s Annual Planning Survey shows that the planning system needs investment – and that requires action across the board.

“We need to ensure that planning authorities have the right people with the right skills and powers in place to drive forward a growth agenda – and that the system is able to release the right resources when it’s needed. For their part, developers need to speak with a single voice – and make it clear what levels of service they need and how much they are prepared to pay for it.

“’There is an urgent need to find bold new solutions to this shared challenge. Further streamlining of the system may well be part of the solution but to get Britain planning to enable growth requires investment. This is an industry-wide issue that needs us all to collaborate to prevent a poorly functioning planning system stifling economic growth.”

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