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The British Chambers of Commerce is calling for a series of urgent improvements to unlock the planning system across the UK. The proposals are aimed at creating a more effective and efficient system that boosts business investment. The BCC’s immediate priorities are:

• Improved resources for council planning teams and more use of digitisation for applications.

• Political stability on planning reform so the system can operate unhindered for a lengthy period.

• More priority for business’ needs in the development management and plan-making process.

• Co-ordination between local and national infrastructure must be a key part of long-term planning.

• Planning system to make grid connectivity easier for infrastructure projects and new building developments.

The proposals are outlined in a new report: Planning for Business – 2023 and beyond. It was put together by the BCC’s Planning Expert Panel, made up of industry specialists who are chamber members.

The policy document also highlights how the planning system must support the transition to net-zero and calls for a more robust appeals system.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, most SMEs have not increased investment. In the BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2023, the number of firms who said they planned to increase investment dropped to 23%, compared to 25% in Q1.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“The planning system has a major role to play in helping to unleash the potential of British business. But all too often firms are left frustrated by a slow and complex process.

“We urgently need more resources for local planning authority teams, greater stability of planning policy and more focus on the supply of land for business use.

“Our research shows that as companies continue to face an unprecedented set of economic challenges, investment is suffering. An improved planning system would help unlock investment.

“Co-ordination between local and national infrastructure projects must be a key part of the long-term planning strategy. Recent speculation about the HS2 project is deeply concerning. It highlights why businesses and local authorities need certainty from government. That will give them confidence to plan and invest.

“Successful businesses are at the heart of local communities. The planning system most focus more on economic growth and achieving the right balance of land for jobs and homes.”

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