Relaxation of planning laws could be one upside of COVID-19

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
4th August 2020

Although the coronavirus pandemic has rightly dwarfed virtually everything, it’s good to see that Boris Johnson is this week banging the drum for what he hopes will be a planning revolution to allow more new homes to be built.

This is one of the most urgent priorities for Gloucestershire.

We desperately need more new affordable homes to be built in the county to try and ensure we both attract and keep young families to build their lives here.

And as part of the Prime Minister’s “Build, Build, Build” clarion call we must also ensure that our Byzantine planning laws are simplified.

I have written previously that our planning legislation is ridiculously complex and slow.

It simply has to change - which we are now promised.

It is crazy, according to the housing secretary Robert Jenrick, that it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to pass through the planning system.

We also have to recognise that blame for some of the planning delays to house building is not all down to local authorities.

There are cases of developers who get planning permission for homes and then hang on to the land.

I am not going to hold my breath about this week’s government paper, Planning for the Future. But it is a step in the right direction - at long last.

And it’s also good to see new, affordable homes are on the post-COVID agenda for the new boss of the John Lewis Group, Dame Sharon White.

She is talking about turning some of the John Lewis department stores into affordable homes.

A great idea.

We need vision like this from our local district councils for big projects to really create new economic momentum in Gloucestershire post-COVID.

The old ideas will simply not work anymore. They will not deliver and future-proof Gloucestershire’s economy.

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