From Prof Michael Ball.

Sir, Neil Sinden’s criticism of Baroness Hanham (Letters, February 21) references my peer-reviewed research results, which have been misunderstood and misrepresented by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The research, Housing Supply and Planning Controls, was published by government/Department for Communities and Local Government in 2010.

The average time for planning approval in the 45 English local councils surveyed was over a year, and much longer for larger schemes. Local politics and house price levels influenced the time taken. There was also much variability, so that developers face great uncertainty regarding timing as well as success.

The overall cost in England of planning delay for major residential developments I estimated at £3bn a year. Such a scale of cost is wasteful.

Nor is it correct that any planning reform leads to drastically reduced benefits. This issue is important because without significant reform, recovery from current low housebuilding levels is likely to be stymied by the planning process. The government is right to be concerned about the situation.

Michael Ball, Professor of Urban and Property Economics, Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK

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