According to a new document drawn up by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) in collaboration with consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), council planners are more interested in 'minimising harm' rather than real 'place-making.'
The Permission to Plan report - the end product of discussions between architects, housebuilders, planning inspectors and planners - also calls for greater emphasis on integrating planning with local service delivery instead of just development control.
Gideon Amos, a director at the TCPA, said: 'Planners don't spend years at university to trawl through applications for loft conversions.
'The profession needs to regain the confidence to shape the big picture.'
Meanwhile Alex Khaldi at PWC feels something radical needs to be done to speed up the planning process by improving the way trivial applications are dealt with.
He said: 'Bold steps are needed to manage routine casework differently - casework which is clogging up the system.
'New, more cost-effective ways to process applications are needed, backed up with incentives to force the pace of change.'