More planning applications are being dealt with at greater speeds according to figures published today. Local authorities dealt with planning applications two per cent faster in 2002/03 than in the previous year.
Despite an increase to 167,000 applications local planning authorities decided 43 per cent of major planning applications within 13 weeks, 54 per cent of minor planning applications and 72 per cent of other planning applications within eight weeks.
Planning Minister Keith Hill said:
“I am encouraged by these figures which reflect the hard work of planners. A faster, more efficient planning service benefits everyone in the community, whether their application is for a home extension or a new hospital.”
“Authorities like Wychavon, Middlesbrough and North Wiltshire have turned around performance and improved both speed and quality by rethinking their processes. I have invited these authorities to meet me so I can learn more about how it can be done.”
Improved performance by authorities is rewarded financially through the £350 million planning delivery grant. In the next financial year £130 million will be distributed to local planning authorities based on improvements in speed and quality of delivery.
Keith Hill said:
“It is encouraging to see a considerable number of authorities who are just below our performance targets. It just needs a small push and they will be there.
“My only concern is the improvements in performance remain concentrated in the simpler, householder applications. I want to see how next year’s planning delivery grant can provide an incentive to better handling of major applications.
I am keen to see those authorities who work hard to improve the service they give to their communities being rewarded. We spent £50 million this year and there is £130 million available in 2004/05 for those authorities who raise their game. But this isn’t just about speed, it’s about the overall quality of the service.”
Housing boom ‘at an end’ as first-time buyers go missing
Last week, Mr Brown, Persistent ventures repeated his concerns that the economy is hostage to the housing market and how it reacts to changes in interest rates.
He has set up an inquiry to find ways to encourage more families to take out long-term 20 to 25-year fixed rate mortgages.
The Government has also signalled a building boom in housing hot spots – largely in the south of England – to cut prices.
If necessary, decisions on whether to build new estates will be taken away from local councils and given to the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s department.