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Barker Review calls for faster, more transparent planning process

The Barker Review of the planning system has called for the process to be speeded up and made more transparent.

However, the interim report, commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, rejects any need for a significant structural overhaul of the current regime.

Drawn up by monetary policy committee member Kate Barker, the report gives a detailed overview of the performance of the planning framework and the impact of the £600 million cash injection to increase capacity and hurry through applications.

Barker admits that 'there is a continuing concern about the levels of complexity in policy, plan-making and development control' and that there are still fears about delays 'and uncertainty'.

Yet she concludes: '[It] is perhaps helpful to say now that the overall flavour of the consultation process indicated little appetite for a radical rethink of the plan-making processes set in place by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.'

The report has raised eyebrows from the Royal Town Planning Institute. A spokesman said: 'What is significant and worrying is the apparent division between Kate Barker and the Treasury. It is clear that Barker does not believe that major structural change is necessary or desirable; but the Treasury is already briefing that the Chancellor will introduce further legislation.'

It is expected Barker will deliver a further, final report - possibly next year - which will 'explore what further can be done to enable the planning framework to deliver the outcomes, for productivity, for the environment and with regards to social concerns'.

Read the Barker Review in full.

by Richard Waite

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