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    Small firms want fast-track planning

    Small firms must be allowed to fast-track their planning applications so they can grow their business and benefit the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged in a new report.

    The report highlighted that more than half of the 1,700 small firms responding to a survey found planning applications overly complex, while two fifths complained the process was too costly.

    The FSB has voiced concern that small businesses are put off expanding their facilities because of reluctance to go through what they see as a drawn-out, complicated planning process

    Small firms tend to submit applications for minor changes, yet still have to go through a long and costly process complained the report.

    It noted that small businesses that applied for planning permission were most likely to apply for a change of use (30 per cent), a new build facility (26 per cent), an extension (24 per cent) or minor improvement (14 per cent). Only one per cent of applications submitted by small firms are for large developments, said the report.

    The FSB acknowledged that the Government had agreed it was important that businesses were involved in neighbourhood planning. The federation also welcomed the proposed ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’, likely to be a centrepiece of the soon-to-be-published draft National Planning Policy Framework.

    The federation has called on ministers to ensure the presumption promotes a system free of unnecessary delay, and does not favour big business at the expense of smaller firms. The FSB wants to see safeguards in the NPPF to protect existing trading centre like the high street.

    John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Costly and complicated planning systems aren’t a new problem for small businesses, but these figures show that the application process is still far too costly and complex for them.”

    Planning Portal Update 22.07.2011