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President's Piece September 2015

Date: 23/9/2015

The President's latest blog:

"Autumn is upon us with a fresher breeze in the air and storm clouds gathering. Productivity Plans with Devolution and more radical planning reforms are about to go live as Government prepare for the rash of Parliamentary bills to hit us all.

Seismic shifts in the country's planning system will present their next set of challenges to local government and the profession. But, as always, when there is turbulent change and reform ahead there are opportunities to grab so that planners can really influence the direction and outcome of new national policy and implementation, for the common good. Am I being too hopeful? May be so but the first signs of government influence appeared when our re-appointed Housing & Planning Minister announced the recent success of the Planning system in approving over a quarter of a million new homes and for the first time congratulating us by stating, it's not the fault of the planners in holding up housing delivery. We finally have Ministerial recognition that we are doing are bit for 'homes and productivity' and delivering. So that implies the delivery problem lay elsewhere. Dare I suggest the capacity constraints of the house building industry or the delay of increased property banking lending translating into more sustained development and long term investment in housing. Also, the somewhat scary Housing reforms and impact on the housing association sector with Right to Buy and rent reductions, is unlikely to build confidence in more social or intermediate housing delivery.

Timely, the Minister has announced a new Local Plans Streamlining working group with high expectations on sorting out the current complexities of our plan making system. POS is seeking to get high level representation on this important group to ensure our voice is heard and we can influence the outcome to secure a simpler, faster and fit-for-purpose plan making process.

Finally, all these key reforms issues are coming up soon for POS members to debate at the next exciting POS Forum in Central London Friday 2nd October. An event not to be missed when so much of our planning system is at stake. Try make it along."

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Stewart Murray, President 2015/16

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