Headlines: March 31st, 2006

Local authorities still face a challenge to deal with planning applications more efficiently while still making the right decisions. That was the view of Housing and Planning Minister, Yvette Cooper, as she gave details of the final allocations to be made under the Planning Delivery Grant, which rewards local authorities for improved performance in their handling of planning applications.The latest 135 million pounds in grants brings to more than 480 million the amount of Government money injected into the system though the PDG. The minister congratulated successful authorities and said she hoped more would follow their example. “It is great that local planning authorities are already improving their performance. However, there is still a challenge for authorities to deal with applications more efficiently whilst ensuring they make the right decision for their community,” she said.

The government believes the delivery grants are making a real difference to performance and says the number of local authorities meeting the targets has increased by over 30 per cent for major applications and by nearly double that amount for minor and other applications. Of the 135 million pounds, 89 per cent is being allocated directly to local planning authorities in line with criteria set for progress in online planning, plan-making performance, speed of handling applications, increasing housing stock provision in areas of high need and supporting local authorities with issues of low demand for housing.

Yvette Cooper said that in line with the government’s commitment to help meet the demand for housing, the proportion of PDG allocated for delivery of housing in areas of high demand had been increased. The largest allocations go to local authorities which have performed well across all the criteria and which have improved on their performance last year.