WHILE money - especially the lack of it - is at the root of the recession it’s actually the changes that it has wrought to our everyday lives that are the real challenges.
In the good times, developers constantly complained about the planning system being too complex and too slow – and as time is money it was also far too costly.
But the world was awash with money which allowed us to cope with such matters, so the grumblings were somewhat muted.
With the changes the recession has reaped, we no longer have that luxury. Without ‘guaranteed’ growth in values this region faces major challenges in achieving viable development. Government has already sought to speed up the planning process but with mixed results.
Now change is essential if we are to achieve anything in the region over the next few years.
It’s not an easy task as planning authorities have to balance their statutory duty for public good, economic growth, sustainability and effectiveness in delivery of development.
The Government funded an independent report – the Killian Pretty Review – to look at ways to speed up the planning system and I was one of those who contributed via the RICS submission.
This identified two major issues; the need for proportionality throughout the planning process (this point encompasses lack of flexibility, over-complexity, and an over-emphasis on target dates) and the need for experienced professionals.
The upshot is that RICS Dispute Resolution Services has been appointed to manage a new service to increase the capacity and capability of the Planning Inspectorate in England and Wales. Experts Appointments in Planning Service (EAPS) will provide advice on development plan documents, speeding up and streamlining the plan-making process.
It means property professionals will assist inspectors at inquiries and appeals.
There will also be mediators to facilitate planning disputes. A pool of expert advisers to represent a wide cross-section of skills knowledge and experience is currently being established and a further announcement about the service is expected in early October.
I am a staunch supporter of the evolution to remove litigation and seek mediated resolutions to move planning applications forward and will be taking a role in this.
Long gone are the days when developers could draw a red line around the boundary of the property and submit a plan to get consent.
Today they need to address a plethora of studies, consultation exercises and financial and economic modelling. It needs a much more sophisticated and consultative approach.
In turn, planning authorities need to be more proactive and show leadership and understanding to achieve the balance between public good and delivery of much-needed development.
The knowledge and expertise needed to speed up the process yet achieve the overriding objectives of economic growth, quality of environment and place, and achieve the pace of change, needs to come to the fore.
A more effective and less costly system would be good for all concerned and drive our regional economy forward.
Kevan Carrick is partner in JK Property Consulting LLP and policy spokesman for RICS North East.