Planning system 'must meet globalisation challenges'


Britain's planning laws must be made more flexible if businesses are to meet the challenges of globalisation, a government-commissioned report is expected to stress today.

The initial conclusions of a review into the country's planning system, headed by leading economist Kate Barker, will say that the changing global economy means that the process for business decision-making has altered and that relevant regulations must reflect that, Treasury officials said.

Bank of England policymaker Ms Barker, who was asked by chancellor Gordon Brown to carry out a complete review of Britain's planning system at the end of last year, is expected to argue that changes are needed if businesses are to remain competitive.

In her interim report, ahead of full recommendations to be published later in the year, Ms Barker will claim that the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act is responsible for many of the problems faced by businesses.

They claim that red tape is causing them delays in securing planning permission for new developments and deterring them from making new investments.

Criticising legislation which has centralised many planning policy powers, Ms Barker will argue that any new planning regulations must be more flexible in order to minimise delays and uncertainty for business.

She will also stress that future legislation must take into account environmental objectives and allow local concerns over proposed developments to be heard.

But while highlighting problems with the current planning system, today's report will also recognise that some improvements have been made following government reforms, with almost 80 per cent of all new planning applications now processed within eight weeks.

Gordon Brown has said that he hopes to introduce new legislation by the end of the year to further improve Britain's planning system in the wake of Ms Barker's recommendations.

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