Planning reforms would not promote growth, says report

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Proposals to reform Britain's planning system would have little or no impact in promoting economic growth and could undermine public well-being, a report commissioned by conservation charities claims today.

Ministers insist that changes to current planning regulations will make it easier and faster for businesses to build new houses and develop commercial premises. They say they have been forced to act because the cost of getting planning approval in the UK can be up to 10 times more than elsewhere in Europe and is now a significant concern to overseas investors.

But a report commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and the RSPB claims there is no evidence that planning has large effects on productivity or employment and that the draft National Planning Policy Framework is unlikely to have much effect on growth.

The report, prepared by Vivid Economics, also found that, although there have been a few studies of the costs of the planning system, the resulting claims have been overstated – and very little has been done to measure the benefits that good planning delivers.

"Effective planning should not be seen as a choice between growth or the environment," said Neil Sinden, director of policy for CPRE. "As this report argues, the aim of planning should be to secure long-term well-being."