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Gordon's plan

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Little attention has so far been paid (except in the AJ) to the likely fundamental overhaul of planning and development control, whatever happens in the election.The reason for this confident assertion? The Treasury has started taking a keen interest in the subject, which means one thing: change is on the way.The reason for Great George Street's current investigations is that the penny finally dropped - planning is a very expensive business.To take one example, the Terminal 5 Heathrow inquiry will have cost British Airports Authority and UK plc about £200 million before a sod is dug. God knows how long it will take before a decision is finally reached, or what will happen if the same techniques are applied to plans for a new runway. Christopher Fildes, City commentator for the Spectator , sums up Gordon Brown's thoughts: 'There is no more pervasive blight on the British economy than the planning process. . . it still lives in the postwar world of rationing and licensing when government knew best and planned everything. . . a chancellor who is obsessed by productivity has stubbed his toe on planning and has set a team of the Treasury's best and brightest to come up with remedies. Now he has offered to put their ideas into action.'However, Fildes warns: 'One catch presents itself: no reform of Gordon Brown's has ever made life simpler.'

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