Planning crisis hits new homes

A severe lack of planners threatens to derail housing targets.

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For 10 years, despite repeated warnings, there have not been enough skilled planners to deal with the country’s planning applications.

The number of planning applications has soared 25 per cent since 2000, to a huge 650,000 a year and understaffed councils cannot keep up, according to a critical new report.

The lack of planners is predicted to reach a shortfall of almost 50 per cent by 2012, which will threaten the number of new homes that the Government wants built.

There is ‘a significant risk that major Government targets for development and regeneration will be missed’ the Government select committee report says this week.

At particular risk of failure, it goes on, is “the [Government’s] intention to build three million new homes”. Strong stuff from a committee hired by the Government itself.

And CABE, the Government’s commission for architecture, confirms that one of the biggest challenges currently facing planners is to “meet the commitment to build three million homes by 2020”.

Planners underpin our environment and the economy. It is their decisions that shape our towns and cities, roads and railways and our homes.

The report says that planners are not paid enough to stay in the public sector, nor does the profession seem glamorous enough to attract young people into it.

The Minister for Housing, Caroline Flint, admits that “we can end up in a bit of a review-itis situation”.

Yet, unless the report’s recommendations to raise the number of planners and their skills are acted on, it warns that “our towns, our cities and our economy will be threatened either by paralysis or chaotic and unregulated growth”.

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