Headlines: December 12th, 2005

More than half of Local Planning Authorities met or surpassed the Government’s target to decide 60 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks in the year up to September. Housing and Planning Minister, Yvette Cooper, has announced that authorities’average performance across the country has improved.New figures show an increase of four per cent of both major and minor applications and three per cent of other applications were dealt with inside the target time limit, compared to six months earlier. The Minister said there were many individual success stories with 114 planning authorities improving their performance.

To continue the improvement the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is offering additional funding to the Planning Advisory Service and Advisory Team on Large Applications so they can expand their support programmes for those authorities that under-perform.

The ODPM is also disengaging from four authorities, Mid Bedfordshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Stratford-on-Avon and Tower Hamlets, that had previously been designated as poor performers. They have each made significant improvements and are now achieving at least two of the three national targets.

Yvette Cooper said high quality planning services were vital to delivering sustainable communities and she had been encouraged to see performance improving across the board. More needed to be done, she said, and that was why the ODPM was supporting further reform to the planning system including a new review by Kate Barker of planning for economic development.Quarterly development control statistics for July to September, published at the same time, showed 80 per cent of all planning decisions were made within 8 weeks, 3 percentage points higher than at the same period a year ago.