Housing: Construction

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 14th January 2014.

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Photo of Dave Watts Dave Watts Labour, St Helens North

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average time taken is for a large housing scheme to go through a local council's planning system.

Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Department's statistics on planning applications show the number of local planning authority decisions on major residential developments (10 or more dwellings) by various time periods from receiving the application to making the decision. The latest statistics show in the 12 months to September 2013 54% of major residential decisions were within 13 weeks (the statutory deadline), 71% in 26 weeks and 88% in 52 weeks.

Under this Government, the number of planning applications has risen, the proportion of planning approvals has risen and the number of planning appeals has fallen. 99% of all planning decisions are ‘right first time’: that is they are agreed, rejected and not appealed, or appealed and still rejected. But major decisions are still too slow. Planning delays are unfair to both local residents and planning applicants. Planning is a quasi-judicial process: and justice delayed is justice denied.

The Government have been working with councils to help speed-up decisions on applications, including:

funding the Planning Advisory Service, which provides advice on service improvements; reducing unnecessary information required to be submitted with applications; extending permitted development rights to take minor and uncontroversial applications out of the system, allowing resources to be targeted more effectively; working with the slowest local authorities to raise their performance, assisted by measures introduced in the Growth and Infrastructure Act.

A number of additional technical measures to improve the end-to-end process of handling applications were announced in the autumn statement on 5 December 2013.

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