With the introduction of enterprise zones, and the creation of new 'business-led neighbourhood' plans in Trafford Park and Liverpool Innovation Park, the government has signalled an appetite to finally look at shaking up the UK's antiquated planning system.
For far too long, developers have had to deal with red tape, bureaucracy and at times battles with an over powerful heritage lobby that have led to investment opportunities and valuable regeneration schemes across the North West being lost.
No more so has this been in evidence than Liverpool, where a combination of a short-sighted planners and world heritage status has caused all manner of frustrations and delays that have seen initiatives and projects that would have given the city's asset base a real boost kicked into the long grass.
That the government is now identifying designated development areas where such frustrations can, hopefully, be more easily overcome, and important schemes fast tracked is a welcome move.
However, if we are to make real progress with planning in this country, then urgent steps need to be taken to remove politics and political influence from the process. Far too often, local councillors are put under pressure by NIMBY's and they feel obliged to refuse planning permission on developments not because they lack merit, but because it will cost them votes. This is clearly wrong, and in many respects unfair to both the developer and the politician.
The councillor is elected to represent the views of his or her constituents. Therefore, it is only right that they should be part of a consultation procedure that enables them to articulate the views of their local residents. However, they should not, ultimately, have the decision-making power too.
For major schemes, independent planning commissions, which take on board all the information as currently presented, should be established, and politics removed from the decision making process altogether. This would add legitimacy to planning procedures; and offer a much fairer set of rules to the property development sector.
If the government is serious about tackling the burdensome process we now have to suffer, this type of radical change is very much needed.