There are many parts of the planning and related processes that we could do without – we will look at something else each week that could be eliminated.
Let’s start from the ground up. Development requires land. The public sector is a significant land owner and there is far more that could be done to release public sector land. A perceived constraint on the public sector is Section 123 Local Government Act 1972. This requires local authorities to obtain best consideration for the disposal of property unless they get the approval of the Secretary of State.
The principle is sensible but why does it need to be a legislative requirement? Even with permitted exceptions and general consents from CLG it is burdensome. And in some cases local authorities want to use their land more imaginatively than the cash value would suggest is appropriate. Why not abolish the section and allow local authorities the freedom to dispose on the terms that they think sensible? In many instances they will want to maximise value (and as tax-payers we should hope that they will). But they may decide that there are good reasons for being adventurous – and we should also encourage that where the authority is transparent about the reasons for doing so.