By Ian Mean


Businesses looking to grow in Gloucestershire seem to be continually facing interminable delays in decision making from our district councils.

The planning process seems to be often like reading War and Peace—it just goes on and on.

But there seems no speedy solution to this planning nightmare in Gloucestershire which faces falling behind other counties which have really gripped the planning nettle.

Putting a very complex situation simply, there is an ongoing delay with three of our districts-

Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester-getting to grips with the Joint Spacial Plan-previously known as the Joint Core Strategy.

It’s now five years since the government inspector told the districts to immediately start a Joint Core Strategy review but this has still not reached the consultation stage.

What we need is a Gloucestershire County Council led Strategic Plan for the county’s economic and housing growth.

Both need to be considered together. Business must have sustainable housing to support its increasing workforce.

If government are not going to introduce strategic planning powers for upper tier authorities, Gloucestershire may need to consider going for a unitary authority like Wiltshire, Somerset and Cornwall have done.

However, our district councils are struggling to resource planning departments. Recruiting experienced planners is a big challenge.

According to the Sunday Times this week, the government’s planning White Paper says the average time to sign off a local plan rose from 450 days in 2009 to 815 days in 2019.

These sort of delays are a huge obstacle to business looking to expand or relocate their business in the county. When I talked recently to a prominent businessman about the county’s planning challenges he told me that due to delays he would never deal with one of our district councils again.

Business deserves better from our planning and planners. We simply must not holdup Gloucestershire’s economic growth.The talking has to stop—action is now needed.