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‘Many developments allowed that should be declined; weakening planning rules will make this worse’ – Star Letter 03/07/20

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  • 03/07/2020
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‘Many developments allowed that should be declined; weakening planning rules will make this worse’ – Star Letter 03/07/20
Each week Mortgage Solutions and its sister title Specialist Lending Solutions select the top comments from our readers in our Star Letter section.

 

The first was a comment to the article: IMLA welcomes planning changes but urges Help to Buy extension  

Arron Bardoe said: “I am very concerned about changes to the planning system, which exists not to thwart developers but to ensure good quality and sustainable development.  

As it stands, there are still many developments allowed which should be declined, so a weakening of the rules will make this worse. 

Bardoe added: “If there is to be changes, it should be away from the South East and London, which is already over developed; and pushed into areas where councils and communities are desperate for construction. This would also to stop the Londoncentric economy and push the UK prosperity to the whole of the nation. 

Doing away with the rules will create issues such as lack of parking – affecting existing residents; congested roads; oversubscribed GP surgeries and schools; no provision for amenity space – gardens and suchlike; poor public transport infrastructure; and a disregard for sustainable building and heating methods. 

The government should consult with councils to see which areas want development; and perhaps even reintroduce enterprise zones with tax breaks, especially in areas with high unemployment,” Bardoe added. 

 

Equity release changes must be measured 

In response to the article: FCA must act on ‘unacceptable poor quality’ equity release advice – Lynda Blackwell  

Andy Wilson said: “The FCA report may well be a wakeup call to some advisers who do not engage with the advice process sufficiently well. However, the failings are hardly the smouldering cauldron of abhorrent service and advice this article makes out. 

“I would suggest that for the vast majority of ethical advisers in this industry it is a chance to benchmark our own processes, information gathering, fact finding, appropriate advice and reporting to the client in clear unambiguous terms. And in doing so, improve our own standards and quality of advice even if we think we are already the best we can be.” 

 

Few complaints 

Wilson added: Ultimately, the number of complaints about equity release is very low compared to other forms of lending.  

The Financial Ombudsman Service reported that over the 12 months to March 2020 there were just 38 complaints about equity release – and only two were upheld. Around one in five complaints over the last two years were about the advice given.  

He said: Admittedly, future complaints may well come from the families of planholders who have died – meaning their initial involvement must be encouraged, and reasons for non-engagement documented – but currently the volume of complaints is low. 

So, whilst failings are reported and need to be eradicated, we need a measured, positive, responsive and balanced approach rather than an FCA sledgehammer. 

 

Advisers should advise on all aspects of borrowing

Another comment was made in response to the article‘FCA equity release findings were disappointing but not surprising’ – Marketwatch 

Lisa said: “Too many equity release advisers only advise on equity release as such they simply don’t have the tools and knowledge to be able to offer alternative solutions.  

All advisers should be able to advise on all aspects of borrowing to ensure the client receives holistic advice and is not railroaded down just one advice track. 

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