An evaluation of the impact of planning law and policy on the small business enterprise

Barwise, Jacqueline M. (1993) An evaluation of the impact of planning law and policy on the small business enterprise. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The overall aim of the work is to review the planning system in the context of the world of the small business enterprise. The objective being to ascertain whether the Government policy 'Lifting the Burden' is being achieved or can be achieved and whether businesses are in practice being encouraged to set up and grow, in the light of prevailing planning legislation.
After a review of the evolution of Central Governments commitment to de-regulation, questionnaires and interviews were conducted among Planning and Economic Development Departments of selected District Councils in the Lancashire area. The views and attitudes of Local Government officers were explored with a view to identifying any possible areas of conflict between policy guidance and legislation and whether 'Lifting the Burden' is achieving its objectives in practice.
Similar in-depth interviews were conducted with representatives of small business organisations in order to balance the picture. When the research began in 1989, the political and economic climate reflected a near decade of the Thatcher Government's enterprise culture, small businesses had been encouraged to set up and grow. Local Authorities had been charged with the responsibility of assisting wherever possible. However, it was not envisaged at that stage that over the
next three years a change in political emphasis to private support, together with economic recession, would have such a dramatic effect on the small business community and Local Authorities alike, as both struggled to work within ever diminishing resources. The research shows that this situation resulted in a disillusioned small business world and an increasingly frustrated Local Authority system.
Planning matters had initially figured prominently as a burden on business compliance costs but towards the end of the research it became apparent that mere survival had taken precedence in an ailing economic climate.
An extensive literature survey together with information gleaned from questionnaires and interviews demonstrates how
the law and policy operate in practice within the constraints of overall resource problems. This, together with the comparative study undertaken of other systems, albeit limited, leads the author to suggest possible legislative reform and a re-affirmation of Government commitment in the form of increased resources, if there exists a serious intention to regenerate the small business community.

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