Clark: UK needs a positive attitude to planning


Planning minister Greg Clark says the UK needs a cultural shift in its attitude towards planning.

Speaking at a British Property Federation event this morning, Clark said he had become “dismayed” about the UK’s attitude to planning.

Clark outlined his thoughts about development following the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework on 27 March.

“I have been dismayed about how pessimistic people have become about the possibility of change to their built environment,” he said. “It is desperately sad.”

“We want to get things built. It is important that a positive attitude is reflected right throughout the system.”

He added: “I would expect everybody to be thinking creatively and looking for opportunities.

“I want to return to a view where people do not regard development as a threat and that they feel some excitement that it is making change for the better.”

Clark said he was also now working on a response to fears that the community infrastructure levy and high planning fees, if set too high in certain areas, can harm the viability of development schemes.

Capital & Counties investment director Gary Yardley said anything that speeds up planning and encourages growth “has to be welcomed”.

But he questioned whether the NPPF could “address the fundamental flaws of the planning system” and bring about a cultural change.

Yardley said CapCo had already paid £2m in planning fees to the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham for its £8bn Earls Court regeneration scheme.

But he added: “We are now being asked to pay more because we are told it is going to take longer. Developers have no problem paying fees, but that is not providing much of an incentive for us.”

Carter Jonas head of London planning Nick Taylor argued that the NPPF could be described as a “lawyers’ charter” due to the opportunity to “interpret it in a number of ways” including around the definition of “sustainable development”.