Development FinanceNews

Government set to get tough with planners

The government is set to get tough with local authorities that are consistently slow making planning decisions and who refuse development without good reasons.

The criteria for improving planning performance have been published which sets out how persistent under performance will be tackled. Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell (pictured) said that authorities must continually improve their processing of both applications for major and non-major developments.

He said: “An effective and strongly performing planning system is a crucial part of delivering on our commitment to increase housing supply. We are very clear that planning delays are bad for both applicants and local residents.

“They can slow down the building of new homes and also create uncertainty about the future shape of the community. Planning is a control on people making use of their land and is a quasi-judicial process, so any delay is denying them their legal rights.”

Barwell, who is also Minister for London, explained that the existing regime has had great success in delivering improved performance in local planning authorities. In the most recent quarter 83% of applications for major development were decided on time, the highest figure on record and up from 57% in the third quarter of 2012 when the designation regime was first announced.

“We are committed to ensuring this is reflected more widely across the planning decisions authorities make. Therefore we are extending the regime to further drive delivery against statutory requirements by including an authority’s performance in determining applications for non-major development,” he added.

Local authorities will be measured according to the speed with which applications are dealt with measured by the proportion of applications that are dealt with within the statutory time or an agreed extended period and the quality of decisions.

Barwell said: “A premium fee paid by developers to get their applications fast tracked is also on the cards. The government always has to bear in mind when thinking about planning fees is that they are paid, both by individual families that are looking to extend their home, but also by very large companies who clearly, or often, would be prepared to pay significantly more because, as a quantum of their potential profit from a development, it’s a pretty small share.

‘I think those kinds of agreements, or other flexible arrangements, are all worth looking at.”

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