IT has been interesting to watch and listen to the political party conferences and the main contenders jockeying for position - it has been even more interesting to see them reflect on recent words from this column.
For instance, Lord Mandelson said in The Journal a couple of weeks ago: "RDAs have an absolutely vital role to play in pioneering the jobs of the future.
" Without the RDAs leading this we will just have adrift to the South East and a London–centric development of the UK economy – and unbalanced and unsustainable and unfair for the UK as a whole".
On the same day, shadow housing minister Grant Shapps is reported to have told the National Housing Federation Conference that a Conservative Government would reform and liberate the planning system in order to make "development welcomed and appreciated".
Hear hear! to both. As regular readers will know I am a passionate supporter of the region’s RDA One North East but I’m also eager to see the planning system improved, but this requires that the right resources are in place.
There has been a lot of work looking into how the planning service can be more effective and efficient.
The Government commissioned the Killian Pretty Review, which, among other proposals, suggested mediation to speed up the planning process.
The RICS followed this up by funding the Improving the Capacity of the Planning System in England & Wales report, which detailed the following key points:
A growing burden of documentation and evidence which clogs up the planning system as it attempts to become more democratic and transparent as well as cover a wider range of issues
The need for better qualifications and on-the-job training of planners and ability of more senior practitioners to keep their skills up-to-date
Problems of recruitment and retention in planning authorities.
Constantly changing planning policy and guidance from national government.
The need to address delays in the planning application process, such as statutory consultees who fail to respond in a timely manner and the negotiations over section 106 agreements .
It was suggested that local authorities should invest more in pre-application discussions, particularly for larger developments.
Finally, it was suggested that the decision to become a planner is highly influenced by salary and that planning in the public sector is too poorly paid to be able to compete for the best graduates.
The Planning Law Conference at Oxford recently addressed Mediation in Planning and reportedly achieved a degree of consensus that the initiative taken by the Planning Inspectorate and the RICS to introduce mediation into planning would help to remove unnecessary delay and expense.
This has seen the launch of the RICS has launched its Planning Mediation Service, with five senior mediator appointments in the UK now in place, including myself, two QCs, a planning lawyer and a planning consultant.
Kevan Carrick is partner in JK Property Consulting LLP and policy spokesman for RICS North East