Small firms must be able to fast-track their planning applications so they can grow their business and benefit the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses says.
Small firms must be able to fast-track their planning applications so they can grow their business and benefit the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says.
The lobbying group believes that unless small firms are able to cut through the bureaucracy as part of the overhaul of the planning system, it will just be yet another barrier in the way of the country's economic growth.
Small businesses might only want to make minor changes to their business, but with banks still not lending and contracts still being paid late, it all adds up and prevents small businesses from growing, says the organisation.
New statistics from the FSB ‘Voice of Small Business' survey panel show that more than half of the 1,700 small firms polled find planning applications overly complex and two-fifths find the process far too costly.
Just over half (53 per cent) of small firms that have applied for planning permission over the past two years say that the rules and process are overly complex, and 38 per cent say that the process had higher costs than they had anticipated.
The FSB is concerned that small businesses are put off from investing time and money into expanding because of the concern about having to go through a drawn-out, complicated planning application.
FSB national chairman John Walker says that while costly and complicated planning systems aren't a new problem for small businesses, the figures show that the application process is still far too costly and complex for them.
Adds Walker, ‘Small firms tend to want to make minor changes that require time consuming and expensive planning applications, when these small alterations can enable them to expand and diversify and so stimulate much-needed growth in the economy.
‘It is small businesses that have the potential to drive the economy, but only if their environment is conducive to growth. Providing a fast track for small business planning applications, that make it cheaper and easier, would provide the incentives they need to grow their businesses. The government is going through huge changes with planning at the moment, so it is vital the small business voice is heard.’
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