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Private sector urged to create a £22.5 million ‘Pipeline Fund’ to help councils clear planning backlog

Updated: Mar 19

Private sector urged to create a £22.5 million ‘Pipeline Fund’ to help councils clear planning backlog


  • New report by the Purposeful Finance Commission argues for privately funded and independently administered fund to help councils clear planning backlogs

A new report backed by leading Combined Authority figures and institutional investors has recommended that the private sector contributes to a new fund designed to help councils clear planning backlogs and speed up the cumbersome planning process which is holding back regeneration schemes and economic growth across the country.


The ‘Pipeline Fund’ would be independently administered and provided for by a range of organisations from different sectors with an interest in clearing planning backlogs and increasing planning capacity at local authorities. Figures* show that only 21 per cent of major applications were processed in the statutory 13-week deadline over the past year, down from 57 per cent ten years ago.


The fund will aim to raise £22.5 million over three years, supplementing the Government’s own Planning Skills Delivery Fund which aims to clear planning backlogs for major projects. The idea of the fund is contained in the second PFC report, Places and Purpose, which also provides a series of other recommendations to help local areas bring forward more local regeneration projects:


  • Establishing a ‘National Investment Register’

Investment data should be collected and stored on a central public register which differentiates between public and private investment. Current ONS datasets are severely limited and dated which makes it difficult for decision-makers to determine where investment flows are heading. A more transparent and publicly accessible approach to tracking investment data would provide a clear indicator of where developments are coming to fruition, and which local areas are struggling to attract either public or private capital.

  • Implementing a ‘Placemaking Matrix’ to win over local residents

Larger developments with a value of £10 million or more should have to demonstrate their purpose to the community in which they are being developed. This will help ensure buy-in for local communities and help avoid cumbersome planning processes whereby developers look to push through unwanted and ill-thought-out proposals. A defined notion of purpose and ‘place’ should not be implemented to supersede or replace affordability or environmental or other Section 106 commitments but rather to ensure developments are fit for the communities they are in.

  • Expanding devolution deals across England

Further devolution should be rolled out at an accelerated rate, providing single funding settlements to empower local leaders to better allocate money according to their region’s needs.

  • Accelerate the phase out of bid-based local authority funding

Central government should accelerate the phasing out of competitive, bid-based funding models as a matter of priority. Creating an atmosphere of competition, the funding system should be amended to incentivise collaboration between local authorities. Doing so would ensure that regeneration efforts across the UK can be conducted as a collaborative and purpose-driven process, rather than one that pits communities against each other.

Tracy Blackwell, Chair of the Purposeful Finance Commission and CEO of PIC, said:


“A lack of planning expertise and capacity at local authorities is a significant barrier to investment, regeneration and the creation of social value across the country. We simply do not have the capacity as a country to handle the backlog of applications. This leads to delays, rising costs, and in many cases the cancellation of much-needed local projects from new homes to reservoirs, all of which incentivise developers and investors to focus on those local authorities which are better resourced.


“The Pipeline Fund would be a brilliant public-private partnership that helps us achieve common aims, where we all need projects to be reviewed by local authorities in a timely and efficient manner, which then helps spread economic prosperity more evenly across the country.”


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