RTPI hits back at Cable 'red tape' charge

The planning sector 'is not a magic bullet' for the market, the president of the Royal Town Planning Institute has said in a riposte to the business secretary's view that red tape is thwarting development.

Vince Cable's recent comments have been called 'curious' by the president of the RTPI.
Vince Cable's recent comments have been called 'curious' by the president of the RTPI.

In a letter to the Times, Richard Summers writes that while planners "accept that they are often a convenient sitting target for ministers", it was "curious" for Vince Cable to claim that "bizarre planning rules" are a barrier to development and social mobility.

"The slow down in the property market is the main cause of currently limited development activity, not the planning system," Summers writes.

He adds: "Let’s not pretend that it is a magic bullet for the market and introduce yet more uncertainty with additional reform at a time when the Government already has a bill going through Parliament."

In a speech in the City last week, Cable said: "Development, and in particular badly needed construction, is paralysed, often in parts of the country which need it most. I hear countless stories of perfectly reasonable developments being thwarted by bizarre planning rules."

Cable has pledged to simplify the planning regime to make it easier to win approval for new developments.

The Summers letter comes in the wake of comments by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party’s spring conference in which he described planning officials who "take forever" with planning decisions as "enemies of enterprise".

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