CABE's chairman Sir Stuart Lipton originally gave evidence tothe government inquiry into the planning system in confidence, butnow the organisation's comments have been made public. It says thesystem is not an effective tool in positively promoting economicdevelopment and urban regeneration. And in design terms it says ittends to apply the lowest common denominator between many vestedinterests, resulting in developments of mediocre quality.

Sir Stuart Lipton said: 'The planning system has becomeincomprehensible to almost everybody. Distant decision-makers withfew relevant skills making judgements on the basis of documentsthat are often 5-7 years out-of-date - it is hardly a recipe for ahigh quality built environment. It simply hasn't produced theresults and after 50 years, characterised mainly by mediocrity ofnew buildings and spaces, it is now time for a major reform.'

CABE proposes a simpler system that would reward developers whopropose high quality buildings and spaces . And to finance a bettersystem it suggests raising the level of planning applicationfees.

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