IN a recent speech to local government John Cridland, CBI Director General highlighted the opportunities for Local Authorities to support strong growth. A concern raised by our members is the planning regime.
A recent infrastructure survey the CBI did with KPMG showed 98% of companies see planning as a problem. Planning is one of the main areas in which the UK has lost international competitiveness over the past decade.
The planning system needs to be a facilitator of development, not a blocker of it.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) made things simpler, with thousands of pages of planning policy condensed to 50.
The new presumption in favour of sustainable development means businesses will be successful in their planning applications if they balance economic, environmental and social considerations.
The NPPF also gives a powerful incentive to create and update local development plans. That means business can work out how best to help meet the priorities local communities have set out.
The biggest planning challenge is one for local councils to meet.
With the power to make more decisions locally comes the responsibility to do so in a way that strikes the right balance. That can mean making difficult choices.
People might not want to lose open spaces to new developments. But they will want the local employment opportunities they bring.
Business doesn’t expect every decision local authorities make to come down on our side. But we do expect councillors to make decisions that are in the broad interests of all their voters, not just a vocal few.
Housing is another case in point. Residents might not want housing developments. But they will want their children to have a place of their own – and in some cases, the sooner the better.
The new planning framework is supportive of growth, key to success is its implementation. Local authorities can play a significant role in creating jobs if they ensure they take a balanced approach to developments weighing up the economic potential when making key decisions.
:: Sarah Green is regional director of CBI North East.