LB Hammersmith & Fulham has called for the planning system to be simplified to enable them to save money operating it.
The council has published a list of 105 ways it could save money if the government changed regulations – not all around planning. It has called upon government to make the change to allow them, and other councils around the country, to save money. LBHF estimates that it could save around £500,000 if the changes were implemented, by cutting the nine million hours council officers spend complying with the regulations concerned.
Top of LBHFs list is a call to scrap “numerous pointless (planning) regulations that cost the taxpayer millions of pounds”. They go on to say: “the sustainability appraisal of a Local Development Framework documents is unnecessarily complex and often generates long turgid documents that add little to the process”.
The paper also calls for more autonomy and fewer stages of central approval in the formation of Local Development Frameworks, a reduction in the amount of information required to accompany planning applications, and the scrapping of the requirement to advertise planning applications in local papers.
They further request, among nine pages of suggestions around planning, that the upper limits on tall buildings and housing schemes which presently require councils to refer decisions to the Mayor of London or Secretary of State be raised, and that councils not be bound by Planning Inspectors’ decisions.
LBHF has been seen by some as a “test bed” for radical ne policies, particularly for Eric Pickles and the Dept for Communities and Local Government, so it is a distinct possibility that some of these recommedations may well come to pass.