Complex planning applications discourage small firms from expanding, says FSB

Business group calls for government to implement fast-track system

Small firms are being put off from investing time and money into expanding their premises by the “overly complex” planning permission process.

That is the conclusion of a new survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which compiled the responses of over 1,500 small firms to determine how current planning application procedures are viewed by the small business community.

Of the entrepreneurs who have applied for planning permission over the past two years,  53% told the researchers they found the rules and processes too complicated; a further 38% said they found the necessary steps too costly.

According to the FSB, this is particularly galling because most of the respondents have only sought minor development; of those who told the survey they’ve applied for planning permission, just 26% were pushing for a complete new build. The rest sought only small extensions and improvements, or change of use.

John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said:”Small firms tend to want to make minor changes that require time consuming and expensive planning applications, when these small alterations can enable them to expand and diversify and so stimulate much needed growth in the economy”.

In response to the findings, the FSB is calling on the government to implement a fast track planning application procedure for small firms to enable them to grow and expand, which it says is essential for economic growth.

Walker added: “It is small businesses that have the potential to drive the economy, but only if their environment is conducive to growth.

“Providing a fast track for small business planning applications, that make it cheaper and easier, would provide the incentives they need to grow their businesses. The government is going through huge changes with planning at the moment, so it is vital the small business voice is heard.” 



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