British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace told a London conference this week that her members complained about the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
"But if you asked what they would want in its place, there would be a fair degree of confusion," she said.
She said the property industry had originally backed CIL as a preferable alternative to tortuous section 106 negotiations.
But the initial support had waned. In hindsight, some of those who had called for change now think the old section 106 system "was probably ok", she said.
"Ministers rib me about this," she added. "To which I say, 'ok, we all change our minds, but you've made CIL much more complicated than it needed to be'".
Peace set out a number of other concerns about how CIL now operates, including:
A lack of "clear blue water" between section 106 and CIL, "so people feel that they are clobbered twice"
The refusal to let developers pay the levy in kind, for instance by agreeing to build a school on their site rather than make a financial contribution
Local authorities taking insufficient account of viability issues in setting levy rates, and the difficulty of getting those rates overturned at appeal
Councils using CIL as tool to deter particular types of development.
Peace was speaking at the IED Annual Conference, which was staged in association with Planning and Placemaking Resource. It was sponSored by: Nathaniel Lichfield & partners, Grant Thornton, YTKP Group, Tractivity and WECD.