Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy has launched a bitter attack on the inconsistent application of planning laws in the UK. Speaking at the CBI national conference in Birmingham, Leahy told delegates he was still waiting to find out whether Tesco could build a 25,000 sq ft supermarket in Clapham four years after the original application went in. "Rome wasn't built in a day," he conceded. "But why does it take four years ­ almost the lifetime of one government ­ to get a positive decision for one, moderately sized inner city store?" Meanwhile similar applications are "waved through without so much as a squeak from central government". Leahy said applications should be reviewed according to a strict timetable, while clear and transparent criteria should be laid down to determine whether central government intervenes with local applications. He went on to suggest those penning planning guidelines devised them according to "theories in Whitehall which have scant regard to the situation on the ground". Providing consumers with what they want means stores in the suburbs, where they live, as well as in the city centres, he added. Speaking at the same event, planning minister Lord Falconer said the government was preparing a green paper that would introduce more clarity, certainty and transparency into the planning process. The document will be published by Christmas. "Whilst there are shining examples of good practice," said Falconer, "there are too many places where applicants despair of making their plans understood, and watch, bewildered, as their applications get lost in the incomprehensible meeting cycle of the local planning committee." {{NEWS }}