Tags: coalition, economy, government, infrastructure, planning
The Coalition’s hopes for economic recovery increasingly lie on the shoulders of infrastructure developers, and reforms to the UK’s planning policy have so far been seen as the vehicle to deliver substantive change and, ultimately, growth.
The government has recently revealed plans to stimulate house building across Britain. Planning regulations will be relaxed, applications fast-tracked, and first time buyers offered support. The Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill, worth up to £50 billion in government guarantees, is currently under consideration by the Parliament. This is all good news for developers, who need both a more favourable planning system and better access to finance for proposed projects.
Yet much of the Coalition’s attitude to planning policy reform appears inconsistent, particularly with regards to the future of greenbelt land. In March the government published its National Planning Policy Framework, and (then) planning minster Greg Clark’s foreword stated: “Green Belt land that has been depleted of diversity can be refilled by nature.” Just months later, the Chancellor announced plans which will make it harder for residents to object to new developments and encourage councils to allow building on greenbelt land. How these proposals will fit in with the Localism Act and whether they will come to fruition or wither on the vine, as with the proposed privatisation of Britain’s forests, remains to be seen.
Relaxing planning policy is one step, and a useful one from a development standpoint. However, where waste management and energy infrastructure is concerned and energy-from-waste in particular, the ability of local communities to challenge and overturn planning decisions remains a constant thorn in the side of developers. The chief executive of Viridor, Colin Drummond, recently lambasted the “culture of the kneejerk judicial review” which disrupts and delays projects, even after development consent has been received. A reappraisal of the post-planning process and the potential for consent to be stripped retrospectively is appropriate, given the importance of nationally significant infrastructure projects to the economy’s future.
Tags: appearance, central governement, coalition, conservatives, election, elections, Liberal Democrats, media management
Who would have believed that less than two weeks ago the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were tearing chunks out of each other’s policies, ridiculing each other’s leader and generally behaving like sworn enemies? The coalition is, so far, holding up remarkably well, with no media slip ups of any note. This is not by accident – advisors will be working around the clock behind the scenes to ensure that everyone is ‘on message’, using the right kind of language and trying to make sure the media aren’t given any sort of gap to exploit the differences between the coalition partners. Let’s see how long the honeymoon and the successful media management lasts…..