Headlines: February 16th, 2006

Local planning authorities have been congratulated for surpassing tough standards for
e-enabling their work. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister had set a target of 80 per cent of authorities having in place e-planning services rated as Good or Excellent by March this year. New figures show 95 per cent have reached the standard.

The figure is a remarkable improvement on the 0.5 per cent of authorities who were in the good or excellent categories in 2003 and on the 37 per cent figure for 2004. The latest statistics show that 151 district and unitary planning authorities have been rated excellent by achieving the maximum score. That represents more than 42 per cent of the total.

The ODPM has congratulated all the authorities and has singled out for praise a number of councils that have made big improvements from low scores last year to achieve the Excellent rating. They include Gedling, Alnwick, North Tyneside, Corby, Crawley, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Lincolnshire and the Lake District.

Last year 8 million pounds of Planning Delivery Grant funding was allocated for performance in e-planning against the Pendleton criteria that measure councils against set criteria and score them out of 21. The ODP has said this year’s e-planning allocation against the same criteria will be announced in the Spring.

ODPM Minister Baroness Andrews said the figures showed the significant strides local authorities had made in improving e-planning services but she said the real winners were the people and businesses who could use electronic systems to submit, view and comment on planning applications. “They can have confidence that the planning system is fully equipped for the 21st century, “she said. Baroness Andrews will host an event next month to congratulate the successful authorities and to highlight the continuing efforts to generate the full range of benefits e-planning can offer.