11 March 2008 - Engage or miss the best of planning reform
The following is the content of a letter submitted by Steve Fidgett, Alliance Planning MD, to Estates Gazette which was published in the Property Life Letters section on 8 March 2008:
Commentators have noted that there are many potentially good things in the current round of planning reform after years of making the system more complex and obstructive. These include a wider definition of employment to include the service sector, and more positive policies for housing and infrastructure delivery.
But that does not mean that this system will change for the better without a real effort by the development industry to try to drive the agenda at the strategic and local level to secure the opportunities this creates.
There is no time to lose. A raft of local development frameworks are being prepared in response to the strategic growth points identified at regional level, with many already well advanced. The opportunity to influence the core proposal which will help shape the future of development are being prepared and defined, influencing the spatial patterns of development as well as the real costs of services.
Positive engagement in the planning process is never more important than if the industry is to fully exploit the current growth agenda. It is too easy for good intentions to be lost amid a welter of policy and process that stifles and dissuades investors from pursuing a bigger goal.
Those in the sector who are opportunists and simply seek to realise shorter-term development objectives will not be left unaffected by these changes. The cost burden of policy will rise. Viability appraisals will not be the sole domain of affordable housing, and will become much more widespread as the weight of policy drives public expectation that the development industry can fund shortfalls in public services.
The government appears to be finally seeing the need to make things happen - a positive and strategic approach is necessary to drive home the benefits for all.
To view the article: