Planning Applications

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23 February 1983.

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Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek 12:00, 23 February 1983

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the speed with which planning applications are being dealt with.

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

There has been a welcome improvement. The latest statistics, which are for April to June last year, show 70 per cent. of planning applications being determined in eight weeks, as against 62 per cent. a year earlier. I hope we can improve further on this.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the second quarter of last year, the period to which he referred, 23 per cent. of the planning applications to the Peak district national park joint planning board took more than 13 weeks to determine, compared with 5 per cent. of the applications to the Staffordshire Moorlands district council and none of the applications to the Newcastle borough council, the other two local authorities in my constituency? Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the performance of the Peak district national park joint planning board and, if not, can he do anything about it?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

No, I cannot be satisfied with the performance of the Peak district national park joint planning board, because its performance, although it has improved in recent quarters, is substantially below the average of other national parks. I recognise that many planning applications in areas of outstanding natural beauty take a considerable time to be dealt with, but some further improvement can certainly be made.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

Although I recognise that there has been an improvement in this area, does the Minister agree that time is money, jobs and investment? Will he please encourage planning committees, so that they may reach decisions more quickly to meet more frequently than once a month when they have to deal with big applications for which people are paying sizeable sums?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I entirely accept that it is vital that local authorities recognise the importance of speedy decisions, and I am happy to say that most now do.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet

Although I welcome the more speedy processing of planning applications, is that because local planning authorities' procedures have been improved, or simply because fewer applications are being made?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

There has been a decline in the number of applications, but I should like to think that some improvements have also been made. A considerable effort has been made by my Department and, I might even say, by myself, to speed up such matters.