While Government plans to substantially overhaul the planning system have caused furore in some quarters – especially councils – radical simplification surely has to be the key aspect of reform.

Thames Tap is happy for those who have spent years following events to offer their informed views, rather than try to offer our own on the details around issues like the bizarre situation in Buckinghamshire.

But years of attending, and now watching online, planning meetings, inspecting planning applications and talking to all those involved, has shown us the system is absurdly slow and complex. Major planning applications have long had to go through a tortuous process.

Once the pre-application work between developers and council officials has been done, the application, with all the various reports about bats, roads, energy and all manner of technicalities, faces scrutiny of council officers who compile an extensive report to put before a committee of laymen and women.

Even at that stage, councillors have a tendency to pore over random technicalities and say their bit, often for little obvious reason when all that really matters is the vote.

On top of that there may be a residents’ army in opposition and then, if the application is refused, a whole new process of appealing or starting from scratch may have to begin – with all the additional costs that incurs for everyone.

Yet, for all the time and money spent on planning, it’s impossible to end up with towns and cities that please everyone. There will always be traffic jams and buildings in some inappropriate places.

A simplified process could be something to look forward to in these uncertain times.

© Thames Tap No 230 (powered by ukpropertyforums.com).

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