It’s that time of year when most companies are closed and operations have practically ground to a halt. For those taking a break it’s a welcome respite and time of rest. For others it can feel as though they’re in limbo, waiting for the new year to start.

There’s something about waiting. Nobody likes doing it and its especially frustration when waiting drags on for months and years – as in the case of getting planning permissions. As much as funding and frameworks are announced, projects can only move forward with planning approval. With this in mind, one would think that streamlining the planning approvals progress would be a priority. Especially with the urgent need to improve and expand infrastructure and boost the construction sector.

Yet delays and red tape continue to challenge the construction and infrastructure sector.  Permissions on average drag out to more than 4 years for infrastructure projects such as road and rail due to the many stakeholders involved. The many court challenges are also adding to project costs. This is not a problem with a simple solution. How can construction leaders help turn the tide?

Consider the impact of regeneration focused design

One of the major objections holding up major infrastructure projects is the destruction of habitats. In the UK there are very few wild spaces left and biodiversity loss is a major issue. (This is not only a UK problem, but an issue globally.) Laws protecting the environment are coming into force, making it harder to ignore environmental impacts for the sake of development. In reality the mindset needs to change.

When designing infrastructure, taking into consideration the environment and how the project can contribute to regeneration rather than destruction will lessen objections. Finding ways within the design to create wildlife corridors and enhance wetlands and woodlands needs to be about more than an environmental tick box. Companies shouldn’t just be assessing how they can mitigate damage through environmental assessments, they should be looking at ways to improve the biodiversity of an area and nurture the environment.

Across Europe, where urban temperatures and pollution have been consistently rising for decades, there’s a big push to green cities. One of the ways this has been implemented is to reduce the number of cars, parking spaces and driving lanes. These have been replaced with dedicated bicycle lanes and walking paths, covered with trees and bordered by gardens. Not only is this creating healthier urban environments, it’s also having a significant cooling effect on cities.

If the benefits of infrastructure extend to the environment, will it help speed up the planning approval process?