Disappointment in Coalition Planning Reforms Revealed by Hogan Lovells and Property Week Industry Survey

LONDON, 13 December 2013 - Planning reforms introduced by the Coalition Government have fallen significantly short of expectations according to leading property developers, investors, planners and surveyors within the planning industry surveyed by Hogan Lovells and Property Week.

Over 150 industry players (64% at chief executive, director or partner level within their organisations) were surveyed about their confidence in the effectiveness of planning reforms implemented by the Coalition Government over the last three years. The findings were published in today's Property Week's Planning Handbook: http://www.propertyweek.com/data/analytics/property-week-analytics-the-planning-handbook/5060798.article.

The results reveal industry disillusionment with the reforms: 

  • 39% of respondents stated that the planning reforms have been quite ineffective or a complete failure, and 22% that they have produced no impact.
  • When asked if the Coalition's planning reforms have helped to boost development, only 36% felt that this target is being met.
  • Only 29% of respondents consider that the reforms are helping them to do their job better. 

Detailed questioning regarding specific reforms provided an equally negative outlook:

Permitted Development (PD) rights - nearly 50% of respondents consider that the changes to PD rights introduced in January this year will not have a positive impact on property development and economic growth.

Growth and Infrastructure Act - the inclusion of provisions to allow planning applications to be made direct to the Secretary of State if planning authorities have been designated as underperforming was considered to be a move back to central Government control by 87% of respondents.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) - 62% say that CIL is unlikely to have a positive impact on development and economic growth, and 22% say that it will have no impact. 11% see CIL as the single largest constraint to growth.

The survey did not paint a hopeful outlook going forward, with 55% of respondents predicting that the planning reforms will have no impact or success over the next five years.

Michael Gallimore, Head of Hogan Lovells' London Planning team, said:

"The results of our survey with Property Week make for depressing but not unexpected reading; both looking back over the last three years since the Coalition Government came into power, and in terms of a bleak outlook going forward.

"There is a beacon of hope following the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), on which respondents were positive. In particular it is giving an impetus to housing delivery. The new requirement for a five year housing supply has taken effect and over 70% of respondents consider that initiative is likely to have a positive impact on economic growth.

"It is interesting to reflect on what the survey might have shown had the Government listened when the reforms were first proposed to those who urged that the previous system should be allowed properly to bed down. There would have been considerable merit in attacking a more limited number of well-defined targets which would have resulted in a more consistent and logical set of reforms".

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