Is working from home driving a planning system crisis?

Larkhill site

With growing evidence to support the idea that the functioning of the planning system has fallen to its lowest-ever ebb, developers are pointing the finger at the switch to remote working by local authorities

The return to working from home courtesy of the Omicron variant has brought many of us right back to the chaos of March 2020, when organisations up and down the country moved to remote working wholesale over the course of a frenetic few days. Whether this latest return to “WFH” reminded you happily of the freedom presented by liberation from the office, or brought you out in hives at the prospect of social isolation and death-by-MS-Teams, probably depended on your personality.

Many local authority staff, of course, had never returned to the office. And, increasingly, housebuilders are pointing the finger at council home-working as the principal cause of a deepening planning gridlock across the country, which is increasingly being described as the worst ever experienced. Despite last year’s covid recession, it is actually supply-side problems, most particularly planning, that are giving the nation’s housebuilders sleepless nights.

In short – they don’t know how they are going to find the land with permissions to build the homes that their customers want. Some suspect it is even going to impact the government’s ability to hit its 300,000 homes-a-year housebuilding target. So how bad is the situation, and is it realistic to think that WFH is really to blame?

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