Britain’s government controlled land-use planning system is holding back development and should be replaced with a diverse range of alternatives according to a new study  published today by the IEA.
The study, edited by Chris Webster, Professor of Urban Planning at Cardiff University, shows that under present planning regulations Britons live at a density that would astonish Americans and often live in close proximity to environmental hazards such as railway lines, motorways and industrial areas. This is because existing regulations are so weighted against development of green field sites.
The study looks at planning institutions that have worked in practice overseas and sets out a number of alternatives to Britain’s current regime. The alternatives have all proven to be more effective than the British system which is dominated by political control. Examples of more successful systems include: the division of land into freehold and leasehold parcels that can provide incentives for the maximisation of land values through a more appropriate balance between conservation and development; the creation of ‘business improvement districts’ which have led to better private provision of shared services to commercial firms; and so-called ‘gated‘ communities which provide an example of how neighbourhoods can be organised and planned by developers and homeowners themselves without the intervention of politicians.
Britain’s current planning system prevents beneficial development from occurring and also leads to poor environmental amenities when development does take place.
It is concluded that the existing system is not ‘fit for purpose’ but that no one alternative system is likely to be appropriate for the whole country in a ‘one size fits all’ sense. For example, different systems of neighbourhood planning may be better suited to urban, suburban and rural locations. The current, politically controlled planning system prevents these alternatives from developing.