Sir Simon was pressed by the committee about revelations in this newspaper that developers who stood to benefit from the changes had donated millions of pounds to the Conservatives and whether this had any bearing on the planning reforms.
He replied: “This process has seen the most intensive lobbying I’ve seen in a long time in this game. The sums of money involved are huge.
“One only has to go through this document with a mildly sceptical eye and you will see one fingerprint after another. We are up against some very rich and powerful people.”
He suggested that it was not a coincidence that a requirement forcing councils to allow new homes only to be built on previously developed brownfield sites was dropped from the draft planning documents.
Think it through for a moment. Would property developers like to have restrictive planning processes or unrestricted?
Restricted, obviously, for two reasons.
1) Much of the profit comes not from the building but from the successful gaining of planning permission. That scarcity value of the right to build goes not to those who grant the planning permission, but to the person applying for it. And of course, there\’s only that value to be gained if planning permission still has scarcity value. So, property developers would prefer to have a restrictive planning system, one that did not degrade the scarcity value of the planning permissions they are able to gain.
2) Planning permission is tough to get. Tough in terms of dotting is and crossing ts, knowing how to get it. This obviously favours those already inside the planning system, those who are already developers because this is their specialist knowledge, what they make money from. A simple, transparent and obvious planning system would be anathema to the current system\’s insiders.