Councils across England need to improve the way they manage the risk of corruption in the planning process, Transparency International UK has warned.
Research by the anti-corruption organisation found major planning decisions are open to conflicts of interest, allegations of bribery and the influence of secretive lobbying.
An assessment of 50 councils in England on how well they manage corruption risk found all have significant room for improvement.
Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said: ‘Many will be disturbed to hear that there are those entrusted to decide on major planning applications who also work part-time for developers as their clients. Allowing such a clear conflict of interest for those holding senior roles does nothing to address concerns that the planning system is open to abuse.
’Councillors working for developers in their private time should not be allowed to influence or determine any major planning applications.’
The organisation is calling for councils to minute and publish all meeting with developers, prohibit those involved in making planning decisions from accepting gifts and hospitality, and prohibit all councillors from undertaking lobbying or advisory work on behalf of paying clients.