Last edited 14 Oct 2015

Fourth annual planning survey

On 13 October 2015 the 4th Annual Planning Survey was published by The British Property Federation (BPF) and GL Hearn (part of Capita plc).

The key findings of the survey included:

  • Public and private sector respondents expressed concern over the lack of resources available to local planning authorities.
  • 55% of local authorities said under-resourcing was a significant challenge and 50% believed the planning system was not operating as well as it did in 2010.
  • 75% of applicants were dissatisfied with the length of time planning applications take, up from 71% the previous year.
  • The majority of developers believe higher planning fees could be part of the solution, with 65% of applicants happy to pay more to shorten waiting times and improve performance.
  • Determination times for major new planning applications were at a three year high of 32 weeks across London, Greater Manchester, Bristol and the surrounding area, more than double the government target of 13 weeks.
  • The volume of major planning applications determined in London was down by 26% compared to 2013-14.

Key regional findings included:

  • In London, the average submission to determination time was 34 weeks, 6 weeks longer than the previous year.
  • The average submission to determination time was 27 weeks in Greater Manchester, Bristol and the surrounding area.
  • The volume of major planning applications determined had fallen by 26% in London, increased by 19% in Manchester, and stayed the same in Bristol and the surrounding area.
  • Densification was a more prevalent priority for applicants in London (47%) compared to applicants in the North West (14%).

Shaun Andrews, GL Hearn’s head of investor and developer planning, said, “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.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, said, “This report shows quite clearly that local authority planning departments are struggling to cope as a result of the efforts to find savings across the public sector, and that this is having a negative impact on local authorities’ ability to deliver a timely and efficient service .

“The fact of the matter is that an effective planning system is crucial to enabling regeneration and development, and if government wants to meet the housing challenge and develop the commercial buildings that support our economy, it is going to need to take action.

“The report shows that there is potentially scope for the private sector to plug this gap, and we urge the government to begin a dialogue with the property industry to see how this might be taken forward.”