Following Boris Johnson’s speech yesterday, Developing Consensus members have shared their views on the ‘Build, Build, Build’ recovery plan.

If you’d like to contribute a quote or opinion in response to the plan, please drop an e-mail to

“The increased flexibility the proposals will bring must be welcomed and will be helpful to some businesses and property owners in enabling changes of use which help keep high street property occupied.

“The proposals to make it easier to convert / rebuild vacant commercial and residential property into new homes without the need for planning permission are well intended but it’s not clear how effective they will be. While residential uses can be successfully integrated into some centres, others, including many former industrial towns in the North East, will find it difficult to attract a residential population, and it is difficult to see how the latest proposals will revitalise those centres. Furthermore, many will have concerns in relation to the quality of development that will materialise in the absence of planning control.

“Town centres are currently facing a range of issues – and while a lack of flexibility in planning is one of them – there is a need for more wide-reaching change than the Government are currently contemplating. In particular there is a long overdue need for reform of business rates and property lease arrangements in order to enable high street businesses to trade on a level playing field with their competitors, whether they be in out of centre retail parks or on-line.”

“At the moment we keep hearing about radical reform of the planning system but all we are seeing is tweaking at the edges.

“Whilst the recent changes to legislation have been positive and will undoubtedly assist in our economic recovery, particularly the introduction of greater permitted development rights, it remains to be seen how the planning system is going to be truly reformed.

“The publication of the Government’s planning policy paper in July is going to be a critical moment for the future of the development industry and the planning profession.”

“The speech and the now imminent Planning policy paper (July) made many announcements that are welcomed, including the £24m from the brownfield fund to the NE Combined Authority. 

“As always though the proof will be in the pudding and fundamentally whether additional resource will be given to Local Authorities to support and deliver the “new” planning system and changes remains to be seen.   

“Quoting Boris ‘time is money’, and the newt-counting delays in our system are a massive drag on the productivity and the prosperity of this country.” I’m not sure why just the newts get singled out when a key factor to delays in delivery, is the excessive layering of a huge amount of technical matters/detail that fundamentally slow the process down, from pre-applications, planning application to condition discharge and beyond.  

“We need to use the new reforms and any cash injection through planning fee changes/funding opportunities to really shift the process to one of solution-driven delivery for the region with empowerment and resources to Local Authorities to support doing that.”

“The real issue with the Planning system at the moment is lack of resource far more than too much red tape. Slow and incremental responses to pre app enquiries and at the moment delays in determining applications due to Planning Committee protocols are creating a bottleneck.

“The announcement of reform to ease Prior Approval conversion of commercial property into residential may increase supply numbers but many fear will be accompanied by poor quality living accommodation and, of course a lack of the one thing the system does provide, planning!”

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s pledges around the National Infrastructure Strategy ahead of its publication in the autumn.  Early commitments on Northern Powerhouse Rail and dualling the A1 up to Scotland are priorities that we have been calling out for.  These could help make a real difference to future economic growth in the North East.

The National Infrastructure Strategy will outline how £100bn will be spent over this parliament.  This will be part of the “levelling up” agenda, to help potential growth the northern regions, with outline spending projections for transport and digital infrastructure.