Government changes slow planning process

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Government attempts to simplify the planning system could be causing new log-jams, according to Sheffield construction group Henry Boot.

The Banner Cross Hall group says the overhaul of the planning system has introduced a new layer of complexity, while local authority cuts have increased the pressure on already overloaded planning departments.

“The indications are that planners are reacting differently, depending on the authority. The planning process now needs more careful management than ever before,” said the Group, as it announced its final results.

Managing director Jamie Boot told The Star: “Local authorities and others are trying to get their heads around the new planning framework and guidelines and they are finding it fairly difficult.

“Getting planning permission is still difficult and it takes an eternity to bring a piece of land through the planning system.”

Mr Boot says he expects further changes that were announced this week and include a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” to add to the confusion in council planning departments.

n Henry Boot is recommending a 21 per cent increase in its dividend for the year to 4.25p as it continues to target a return to pre-recession levels of 5.0p a share.

The latest dividend increase follows what the Sheffield group said was a solid performance in continuing challenging conditions.

Trading profits rose from £18.0 million to almost £20.8 million on turnover down from £131.9 million for the 12 months to December 2010 to £114.6 million last year.