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Shortage of planners jeopardises government's house-building plans, MPS warn

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The government’s house-building and regeneration programmes could be derailed because of a shortage of planners, a powerful parliamentary body has warned.

In a report published today (24 July), the Communities and Local Government Select Committee said the current planning regime is ‘unable to manage the volume or variety of tasks required between now and 2020’.

Committee chair Phyllis Starkey (pictured), Labour MP for Milton Keynes South West, said: ‘When we began this inquiry we intended to look at the skills shortage in modern planning departments, but we quickly discovered the problem went further and that there was a shortage of planners themselves.

‘What is perhaps most surprising, and frustrating, is the fact that these shortages have been in evidence for well over a decade but despite numerous reviews nothing has been done.’

The British Property Federation (BPF) has now called for urgent steps to be taken, claiming the ‘glut of government studies and consultations needs to be replaced by real improvements'.

BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: ‘The majority of this report is welcome, but it’s time for some action after 10 years of frustration.’

‘Our over-complex and unresponsive planning system costs businesses and the taxpayer millions and is putting regeneration and economic growth at risk.'

She added: ‘One of the principal problems is the lack of suitably trained and experienced planning officers; this problem needs to be tackled by serious investment in planning as a career for graduates and a recognition of the skills needed to make the whole system run efficiently.’

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