Pickles’ “Cash for planning” idea slammed by construction experts

New proposals in the Localism bill which could make government cash a key factor in granting planning permission has been criticised by planning experts.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles introduced an amendment of the Localism Bill and the New Homes Bonus (which is currently going through Parliament), which would effectively give councils cash for making positive planning decisions.

This initiative has been criticised by several groups, notably the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), who say that it could distort planning decisions.

Neil Sinden, the Director of Policy for CPRE, said in a statement:

“This amendment is a brazen attempt to legalise cash for sprawl. Many may have criticised the UK planning system in the past, but at least decisions were, on the whole, made on merit and not money.”

The Town and Country Planning Association’s Hugh Ellis, also isn’t a fan of the proposed changes, saying, “While the Government claims this is a minor change to reinforce the New Homes Bonus, in fact it means direct cash payments will become the first amongst equals of considerations for new development.”

Both of these claims have merit and government cash should not be a factor in planning permissions. Yes, once the new homes have been built, local councils should be given cash under the New Homes Bonus, but not before planning permission has been granted, as this could lead to a number of under the table deals and local councils favouring certain contractors’ request for planning permission.

Yes, local councils should be in favour of building new homes, as it would boost the local economy and create construction jobs, but the prospect of government cash should not be the only reason why councils favour new projects.

Any amendments to the Localism Bill are set to be debated on and voted for next week, when the bill reaches the third stage.

What do you think about the whole “cash for planning” debacle? Let us know and comment on the blog or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Posted on May 12, 2011, in construction jobs, construction news, train4tradeskills and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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