Headlines: January 9th, 2001

Local authorities which fail to process planning applications fast enough are also feeling the heat from Government.Fifteen local planning authorities with a poor record of handling planning applications will have new powers used against them to drive up performance.

The authorities will be required to handle 65% of their planning cases in eight weeks. Even this falls short of the Government’s target figure for 80% of such business to be processed in that timescale.

The DETR insists that this new Best Value Performance Standard does not reflect a relaxing of the rules, but a push to help these authorities step towards their 80% target.

Slow processing of planning applications hinders local business development and is a frequent source of dissatisfaction with ordinary householders.

Some authorities have consistently failed to meet Government expectation on speeding up their planning processes.

The new requirement has been set under section 4 of the Local Government Act 1999, which gives the Secretary of State the power to set standards which authorities should achieve.

The councils under fire are: Corby, East Hants, Epping Forest, Guildford, Harborough, Kingston on Thames, Lambeth, Merton, Oxford City, Reading, Restormel, Sevenoaks, Trafford, Wokingham and Wychavon.