G20 and planning permissions — how UK does business is not good reading

The Saint ReportSaint Consulting Links, saintblog, Urban planningLeave a Comment

By Nick Keable,
Vice President, UK Operations, The Saint Consulting Group

So this week, Mr Obama and 500 of his closest advisors (yes, really!) swing through London. All the G20 will be here with us, which is really the G19 plus the g20EU. So this would be a timely moment to look at how efficient the largest 19 countries in the world are at running their planning or permitting/zoning systems.

Helpfully, the World Bank produces an annual ‘Doing Business’ survey covering the top 181 economies in the world which makes this easy to compare. There are several measures in the full report (see here), but we will concentrate on just one measure, what the World bank calls ‘Dealing With Construction Permits’. It’s not good reading. A few observations:

First, how do the G19 rate on this measure:

United States26th
South Africa49th
Saudi Arabia50th
United Kingdom61st

Second, consider this: the USA measures in the report as the 3rd easiest place to do business (after Singapore and New Zealand) but only comes in at 29th on the construction permit measure, considerably behind Germany and France at 15th and 18th respectively.

Third, the UK’s performance is even worse. Ranked the 6th easiest country in the world to do business, it comes in as a lowly 61st when measured on planning system efficiency.

Last, Canada as ever is somewhere between the two, measured 8th and 29th on the respective measures.

So overall not good then. If these are the top 19 nations in the world, how come they are performing so poorly? Is this just down to over-regulation and NIMBYism? Discuss.

Nick Keable is vice president for UK operations, The Saint Consulting Group, email keable@tscg.co.uk, phone +44 207 592 7050

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