The Pidgely review – The expert advisory panel on release of surplus government land for housing has been published today and much of the emphasis has been on a proposal the government has already rejected – putting housing on the centralist and plan less major infrastructure/no national policy statement track.
This is a complete dead end as a ‘fast track’ alone with no net increased system wide in resources will simply mean a slow track elsewhere by definition as resources are shifted. If it is a process issue tackle the process. So for example of more resources are shifted to PINS it has been and will be shifted from the local government settlement leading to less experienced planners and a cycle of decline.
The report is more on track when it considers risk and reward
The model often adopted by Government agencies is to obtain a planning application using external planning consultants to provide the necessary advice. On grant of planning consent, the land is then marketed on the best terms available. This approach means that the private sector is not involved until value has been crystallised through the grant of a planning consent, meaning that the private sector is unable to add value. The only way in which value can be added at this point is through the re-negotiation of the planning permission, which ultimately slows down delivery.
It is not an evidenced piece of research however merely a collation of saloon bar gossip from housebuilders, note it is published on the Berkley Group website. When it says that the evidence from 18 case studies
The planning system is long, complex and costly
How long – where is the statistical analysis?
How complex where is the business process re-eingeering analysis?
How costs, where are the numbers?
Now I have no doubt that planning is long complex and costly, sometimes necessarily often preventable. But I dont need a badly (none) researched piece of work, on issuesoutside the terms of reference, to tell me that I want to know where and how it is unnecessarily complex, long and slow and how this can be fixed be efficiency changes, not simply shifting chairs around the deck of the Titanic. This tells us nothing new, offers no new solutions to planning (as opposed to procurement) issues.
This of course is the whole problem with the Francis Maude privitisation of previously civil service undertaken or commissioned work. Work that is not subject to a contractual arrangement leading to a financial incentive (not getting paid) to ensure quality and basic covering of the ground work. Indeed if it had been done by a private consultancy Im certain they wouldn’t be paid. In field after field such as workers rights, the NPPF , and now government land sales we have self servicing and unevidenced policy proposals from a corporatist elite. Policy by Plutocracy.