"How do we make it easier to just get on and build stuff?"

Why is it that no matter how hard the government tries to simplify things, they usually just get more and more complicated?!

I was struck by this (rather long) quote from architect Roger Zogolovitch referring to his thoughts on the deregulation of UK planning;

“I’m just thinking I could come to New York, build 15 apartments, what I wanted to build, not what somebody else was telling me I had to build, I could build it at a height of my choosing. And then you come back here and you’re in your eighth meeting with the planning officer, and you’ve gone through your Code Level 3 sustainability, and you’ve paid the guy that’s going to give you advice, and he said: ‘Yeah, but that fee that you paid me didn’t cover you for the assessment on the flood risk, and there isn’t a flood risk.’ But it doesn’t matter, you still need the assessment…There’s a kind of insanity that we’ve all bought in to. What do we do to make it easier to just get on and build stuff? So I completely endorse issues of deregulation” (Building Design)

After a recent experience with the Environmental Agency on a site in Cornwall I can’t help but sympathise with his thinking. If we look back over our old project files the increase in complexity of the whole process is clearly visible. Fifteen years ago a file for a single dwelling might consist of a few letters, a planning form and a copy of the drawing. Today we have to use lever arch files to store all the paperwork and that’s without printing and filing emails. The quantity of information now required has resulted in a complete overload of correspondence, reports, and additional drawings.

Surely, if we are to resolve Britain’s housing crisis then deregulation is something that needs to be addressed and it may well need a more radical approach. At the moment, much of the information provided often seems to be a tick box exercise, which is systematic of a process that is risk adverse. Perhaps the first step is for the planning system to accept a bit more risk and just approach development management in a much more simplistic way – then we can just get on and ‘build stuff’!

James Trewin

“Chief of colouring-in”



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