Conference report - 'Dictatorial' Government planning policy under fire

Government planning policy is illogical and unsustainable, a leading property researcher told the Accessible Retail Conference last week.

DTZ research and development director Joe Valente launched an outspoken attack on planning policy, and particularly on PPG6.

He said the Government's stance was dictatorial. 'In all other areas, because of technology and changing business pressures, the power now lies with the consumer. But this is simply not reflected in the planning system.'

He pointed out that planning policy is even running counter to other areas of government policy, for instance the introduction of congestion charging.

'If you are concerned about the vitality and viability of town centres, why put up barriers to people getting there?' he asked.

Valente also had a warning to investors not to expect out-of-town rents to grow for ever. 'Deflation is a reality for many retailers,' he said.

'And that has an impact on the affordability of rents.'

Although out-of-town rents have grown consistently over the past two decades, the end could be in sight, Valente said. 'Has the market now matured to the extent that cycles now come into play, as they do in all other property sectors?' he asked.