Council planning budgets
should be ring fenced, says FMB
Council planning departments should be treated as front line services and protected from local authority spending cuts, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Commenting on the recommendations of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said:
The Committee is right to stress the importance of maintaining adequate levels of investment in planning departments. Although councils are under a great deal of financial pressure, with more cuts to come, there are some areas which must be prioritised over others and planning is one of them.
Our country is in the midst of a crippling housing crisis and if we are ever to start building enough new homes, we need planning departments to be sufficiently resourced to ensure these homes can be built.
I am also pleased that the Committee recognises that although the NPPF is not perfect, it merely requires some adjustment and not a complete overhaul. The last thing we need is for the next government to embark on another major review of the planning system as the one we currently have is broadly speaking working fairly well.
Another major planning review could act as a barrier to small house builders at the very time government wants them to increase their delivery of new homes. As the Committee points out, it’s still early days for the NPPF but what’s clear is the positive impact a simplified planning system can have.
Contractors applaud long term investment strategy for English roads
Civils contractors welcomed today the publication of the Road Investment Strategy, driving forward much needed improvement to our vital routes.
The strategy which locks in £15 billion worth of investment for the next five years will enable the development of more than 100 new routes across England including:
- £2 billion to dual the A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge.
- Improved links to the Port of Liverpool.
Smart motorways to boost connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.
In total the funding will increase capacity by over 1000 additional lane miles while resurfacing 80 per cent of England’s road network.
Commenting, Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said:
The publication of the new strategy is extremely positive for civil engineering contractors and for the UK economy as a whole.
We have long argued that clear certainty of spend enables our industry to plan for the future and to provide innovative and efficient solutions to complex projects.
Today’s announcement enables improvements across the whole of England and marks a genuine and substantial commitment to the road network for the long term.
With each £1 billion increase in infrastructure investment lifting UK-wide GDP by a total of £1.299 billion it is vital that legislation to facilitate the Road Investment Strategy is passed as quickly as possible, to give the utmost confidence to the supply chain as it prepares to deliver a road network fit for the 21st Century.
Contractors respond to infrastructure report
Civil contractors have called for the establishment of an independent commission to foster a long-term approach to infrastructure planning in the UK.
Commenting on the publication of the Institute for Government’s report 'Political Economy of Infrastructure in the UK', Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Alasdair Reisner said:
Infrastructure planning in the UK has historically lacked a long-term strategy.
This has meant that large projects such as Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link have taken far too long to develop and build. Today, the delays we see in solving the problems of airport capacity reflect this challenge.
These delays, mainly caused by a lack of political consensus, have been costly for the tax payer and UK plc.
While substantial progress has been made, we believe Government can go further and facilitate an independent commission for infrastructure, established with cross-party support to analyse the strategic opportunities and challenges facing the UK, identify the best way to respond and then deliver projects which are on time and on budget.