Postcode lottery in time it takes to resolve planning applications, Government statistics reveal (From The Northern Echo)
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Postcode lottery in time it takes to resolve planning applications, Government statistics reveal
HUGE variations in the speed of planning decisions across the region are revealed in new Government figures.
Some local councils are deciding the bulk of major applications within 13 weeks - the target set by ministers – but others are falling woefully short.
The best performer is Stockton-on-Tees, which settles 87.4 per cent of bids within three months, not far short of England’s quickest town hall, in Coventry (96.3 per cent).
But, at the other end of the scale, Hartlepool settled only 32.4 per cent of major applications within that time frame, over a 21-month period to last March.
That puts the Labour-run authority in danger of being stripped of its planning powers, under a controversial change forced through by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
He has threatened to act against any council falling below a threshold of 30 per cent, based on more up-to-date figures to be published in the autumn.
Responsibility would be handed to a central planning inspectorate, a move designed to kick-start the economy by getting foot-dragging planners “off our backs”.
Mr Pickles also vowed to tackle town halls falling down on quality, detected by a high proportion of planning decisions overturned on appeal.
On that measure, Hartlepool is again the worst performer in the North-East and North Yorkshire – recording seven per cent of appeals successful, over a two-year period.
However, that figure is still only half that of the worst councils, where 13 per cent of major decisions are overturned.
Planning minister Nick Boles said it was useful to identify the minority of authorities that were “blighted by delays in processing applications”.
Such delays could “discourage much needed investment in jobs, homes and community facilities”.
Mr Boles said: “It’s quite right that communities and developers looking to provide homes and jobs are able to see how efficiently applications are processed by their council.
“This list helps people go compare, and see how their council is performing, and allows councils to see where they need to improve to provide a better planning service to their communities.”
Other ‘quick’ councils in the region include Harrogate (79.1 per cent of decisions within 13 weeks), York (71.4 per cent) and Newcastle (70.9 per cent).
But Ryedale (39.3 per cent), Craven (45.5 per cent), Scarborough (45.5 per cent) and Darlington (50 per cent) are also far down the new ‘league table’.
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