Planning gain: there must be a better way
Much of the practice by which planning gain is obtained from developers is bad practice, violating the fundamental principle that planning permissions cannot be bought and sold. After reviewing government policy and the law related to the practice of 'planning gain', this paper offers a definition of 'planning gain' which covers most discussion of the subject. It then continues by distinguishing between the products of planning gain practice and its processes. Six strands of product are then distinguished, and their legitimacy analysed, following which the paper turns to process, explaining how the practice of negotiating planning obligations and agreements has predominated over the simpler method of imposing conditions on permissions. Finally, some measures for the improvement of practice are suggested and reviewed, in the hope that a way may be found to end the abuse that is bringing planning into disrepute. The paper is based on lengthy experience in planning practice, supplemented by study of current literature and sources and informal discussions with practitioners.