Slow planning decisions thwart growth, small firms complain

 
Julian Harris
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BRITAIN’S “costly and complex” planning system is stifling small firms and stunting economic growth, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said yesterday.

Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) of small businesses are forced to wait longer than the intended maximum of eight weeks for local authorities to decide on most planning applications, the FSB said.

A mere 30 per cent of applications are decided upon within the allocated timeframe, the FSB’s survey revealed.

“Most small firms only want to make minor changes to their business that would enable them to expand and diversify, stimulating much needed growth in the economy,” said John Walker, chairman of the FSB.

“Small businesses are already over-burdened, especially in these difficult times. Providing a fast-track for small business planning applications would make the process cheaper and easier.”

Many of the applications for planning permission merely involve altering the use of a building, the group said.