Reform over-complex UK planning system say REITs

The UK planning system is currently hindering growth according to UK REITs British Land and Landsec. The two companies have collaborated to recommend a far-reaching series of changes intended to unlock urban regeneration, particularly on brownfield land.

Mark Allan (L) and Simon Carter.

They say that although all UK political parties are united that there is a need to build more homes and economic activity on brownfield land, such development is currently weighed down by the current system.

“There is political consensus in the need to prioritise urban regeneration over greenfield development. The ideas we are recommending today would help to drive our country’s growth by rejuvenating our great cities and towns and can be put into place quickly and easily,” said BL CEO Simon Carter.

In a 20-page report, More growth, more homes, more jobs, BL and Landsec set out what they describe as a roadmap of improvements.

The report highlights problems with the present system such as “layers of complexity” and a default “delay” mode, over stretched planning authorities and a focus on building houses on green land.

Brownfield urban regeneration sites should be classed as a separate planning category, new ways of working should be sought in progressive local authorities and the planning system should be better resourced. Decision making needs to be “proportionate” and tax incentives are needed to unlock infrastructure investment and site remediation, the report states.

“Urban, brownfield regeneration has the potential to unlock growth and prosperity for cities across the UK,” said Landsec CEO Mark Allan. “However, the current planning system acts as a significant brake to this growth. We believe that by making some necessary but simple changes to the existing planning regime, we can unlock this opportunity.”