18th July 2011
A fast-track process is needed for small-business planning applications, as excessive red tape is restricting economic growth, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.
In an FSB survey of 1,700 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), current planning rules were criticised as overly-complex by more than half of respondents, while 38% of those who had made a planning application said they found the costs much higher than anticipated.
A fast-track route for minor works would better enable businesses to grow and expand, according to the business group which said that many small firms only wanted to make minor changes to their premises, such as changing the use of a property or altering the location of doors or windows. The planning system also needed to be simpler and cheaper, it said.
According to an FSB spokeswoman, applications typically took “months, even years”, and many firms were put off from applying, seeing the process as lengthy, complex and expensive. One business had waited four months simply for their application to be acknowledged, she said.
The FSB’s call comes as the Government is preparing an extensive overhaul of UK planning in order to simplify procedures for businesses and individuals. The new National Planning Policy Framework will consolidate the current numerous rules and regulations into one single system.
A Government spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said there were “no plans” to set up a fast-track scheme for small firms, saying:
“The new framework is aimed at making the system much more straightforward for all businesses, from small operators to large companies, so there is no need to implement a specific procedure just for small businesses.”
The new framework is due to be published later this summer, according to the spokesman.