Chris Hossack, Associate Director – Advisory
I sense that local government is poised for a period of frenetic activity, there is excitement in the air and a sense of opportunity both as we emerge from the pandemic and hear from the Prime Minister of his reinvigorated willingness to devolve. The two are linked of course because the last year has shown us that local leadership, applying local knowledge to local problems, works best.
As the economy begins to pick itself up and the smoke clears as to how workforces will be located and deployed to get things moving again, local government will become front and centre an enabler for growth.
We all know that one of the biggest enablers to growth is our planning system. House building is an ongoing priority and businesses will look at how they will accommodate their workforce and structure in a post pandemic world. With the government itself taking a lead on decentralisation of departments to the regions, it is likely that big corporations will do the same. Already we are seeing the private sector show confidence in the UK as a place for investment and manufacturing as we expand our trade horizons.
So it is probable that a number of local planning authorities may well find themselves in the fortunate position of having growth opportunities brought to them. The question is are they ready and organised enough to seize the moment when it arrives? It’s a competitive world and planning authorities that are not geared up to maximize the opportunities that come their way could well see investors look to other areas, perhaps neighbouring ones, where the planning function works much more effectively and has the capacity to deliver for investors – both within the timeframe they require and with the service levels they demand.
The impact of such lost opportunities may be difficult to quantify, be it job creation opportunities squandered, chances for economic growth missed, infrastructure improvement opportunities lost, and revenue growth from business rates and council tax unrealised. More concerningly, there is a chance that some local authorities don’t even know what they might be losing out on!
It is vitally important that councils demonstrate confidence and competence to would-be investors and developers. I have no doubt that they will do their homework before approaching any council with an opportunity. So, we have to ask as local government leaders, what is our reputation like in the marketplace? Are we easy to work with? Do we have a can-do attitude to investment and growth? What do such investors make of us when they review our planning decision making, online for all to see? Are they judging us simply by that and perhaps taking their opportunities elsewhere? Do we have the right capacity, processes and culture to offer a great service that will result in positive outcomes for our communities? Are we ready for the opportunities that lie ahead?
All of these are vital questions and I know many fellow local government leaders are asking them. But are the answers you are getting giving you confidence or are you thinking ‘ we probably need some help on that front?’. If it is the latter, then you have the added challenge of who to turn to for that help.
At Cratus we have a team with an unrivalled depth of experience, poised to help councils meet the challenges ahead and seize opportunities when they arise. Our Advisory team consists of current and former council leaders, former senior local and central government officials, and business leaders with unparalleled expertise on a whole range of aspects of local government.
Our Planning Improvement Programme (PIP) has been developed to maximise the deliverability of planning departments; to create high-performing teams that recognise the significance of their role at this moment. Our unique programme is designed to make a full assessment of your planning capabilities and identify the opportunities that will take you to the level required to deliver excellence. We will even help you get there by guiding you through the changes required in your organisation be they structural, cultural or procedural. Our mission is to put you in a strong position to enable growth and create fantastic places to live and work.
If you would like to find more about how we can help you then please contact us.