George is an old pal of Mike Hayes, current president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, excity planner at Glasgow (when it won the City of Architecture bid), and more recently a lesshappy development supremo at Lambeth council. Speaking from the floor, he suggested that the planning system should be more concerned with proactive, quality-led development, and less with whether or not certain proportions of schemes get permission within eight weeks. He reminded the audience that assessment of local authority performance on planning will soon include plaudits or brickbats depending on the number of staff with a design qualification in a planning office.
Since this will affect funding allocations, it should prove a significant boost to planning department performance. Currently, the oddest councils are recipients of government largesse for meeting their performance targets; for example, a cheque for £500,000 from John Prescott's department recently landed on the desk of the City Corporation.While no doubt a well-deserved tribute to the efficiency of chief planner Peter Rees, can it really make any sense to dish out cash to a well-funded body like the City, when neighbouring Hackney is the borough that needs all the planning help it can get?