In the second quarter of 1997, district planning authorities in England received 136,000 applications for planning permission and other related consents, 10 per cent more than in the corresponding period in 1996.
The number of applications received increased in all regions compared with the corresponding quarter in 1996. Applications increased by 16 per cent in London and the South East and by 13 per cent in the East Midlands. In contrast, they rose by only 2 per cent in the North East.
The number of decisions relating to householder developments in England were 13 per cent higher than a year earlier, while decisions relating to new dwellings were 6 per cent higher. These accounted for 40 per cent and 11 per cent of all decisions respectively.
District planning authorities granted 88 per cent of applications decided in the second quarter of 1997, the same proportion as in the corresponding period in 1996. Approval rates were virtually unchanged in all regions.
Speed of decision
In the second quarter of 1997, 64 per cent of all planning decisions were made within the statutory eight week period, 2 percentage points lower than in the corresponding quarter of 1996. The percentage of decisions taken within 8 weeks fell in all regions except Merseyside where it increased by 2 percentage points. Eighty six per cent of decisions were made within 13 weeks.
Forty three authorities (12 per cent of all responding authorities) made 80 per cent or more of their decisions within the statutory eight week period. Fourteen authorities made fewer than 40 per cent of decisions within 8 weeks.
Responding Authorities for April to June 1997
Of the 373 district planning authorities, 349 provided figures in time for this publication, 94 per cent of all authorities. The figures reported above and include estimates for non-responding authorities.
Applications decided under delegated powers
From April 1997, district planning authorities have provided information about the numbers of applications decided by planning officers under a scheme of delegation and without referral to committee.
These figures are undergoing quality checks, and should be ready for publication in the next edition of this bulletin (due to be released in December this year).
From April 1997, district planning authorities have provided information about the numbers of applications decided which were advertised departures from the development plan in force, and the number of departure applications which were granted.
A total of 327 authorities (88 per cent) were able to provide this information for the period April to June 1997. Of the planning decisions taken by these authorities, 786 were advertised as departures from the development plan, just under 1 per cent of the total. Forty per cent of departures decisions were for new dwellings applications. An average of 61 per cent of departure applications were granted, compared with 88 per cent of planning applications overall.
Enforcement action by district planning authorities
In April to June 1997 district planning authorities issued 1,198 Enforcement Notices and served 1,116 Planning Contravention Notices, 377 Breach of Condition Notices and 43 Stop Notices. Eleven Enforcement Injunctions were granted by the High Court or County Court. These statistics may slightly understate activity due to the lower than average response this quarter by local planning authorities.
Regulation 3 and 4 consents
Under Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, a local planning authority makes an application to itself for permission to develop land within its area, and determines that application. In the second quarter of 1997, 1,043 Regulation 3 consents were granted and 123 Regulation 4 consents were ranted. Regulation 4 is concerned with planning permission for development of land in which the local planning authority has an interest but which it does not itself propose to carry out.
Applications for determination
In the second quarter of 1997, district planning authorities received 3,904 applications for determination whether local authority approval is required for certain works, the largest number recorded in a quarter since data collection began. They decided to intervene in 557 cases (14 per cent).
'County matters' planning applications are predominantly concerned with minerals extraction and waste disposal developments.
They are decided by the county-level planning authorities - that is, county councils, metropolitan districts, unitary authorities, London boroughs, urban development corporations (within metropolitan areas) and national park authorities. However, because of the nature of county matters applications, the large majority are handled by the county councils.
County planning authorities receive about two thousand 'county matter' applications each year. This compares with about 470 thousand planning applications received by district planning authorities.
Quarterly figures for 'county matter' decisions are likely to be much more variable than those for districts because of the smaller numbers of such decisions.
Planning applications and decisions
In the second quarter of 1997, county planning authorities received 616 planning applications, almost the same number as in the corresponding quarter of 1996. Eighty two per cent of the total were applications to county councils and a further 10 per cent were to metropolitan districts. Staffordshire received the highest number of applications in the quarter (61).
County planning authorities made 479 planning decisions in the quarter, 6 per cent fewer than a year earlier. Sixty one per cent of decisions were for waste developments and 29 per cent were for minerals developments. Somerset reported the highest number of decisions in the quarter (31).
Eighty nine per cent of applications decided were granted, one percentage point higher than a year earlier.
Speed of decision
In the second quarter of 1997, 12 per cent of all decisions on county matters' applications were made within the statutory eight week period, almost the same proportion as in the corresponding quarter of 1996. Thirty six per cent of decisions were made within 13 weeks, and 52 per cent within 17 weeks.
County planning authorities have provided statistics on formal enforcement action taken each quarter since April 1995.
In the period April to June 1997, county planning authorities issued 56 Enforcement Notices, and served 12 Stop Notices, 78 Planning Contravention Notices and 16 Breach of Condition Notices.
Responding authorities for January to March 1997
Of the 148 county planning authorities, 144 (97 per cent) provided figures in time for this publication.
District Planning Authorities
The term district planning authorities' describes the following group of authorities with responsibility for deciding planning applications at district-level': Metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts, new Unitary Authorities (those created from April 1995 onwards), London Boroughs, urban development corporations and national park authorities.
Statistics of planning applications received and decided by district planning authorities have been collected on a quarterly basis since April 1979, on the PS1 and PS2 General Development Control statistical returns. Prior to April 1986 these returns covered applications and decisions under Section 29 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 (since replaced by Section 70 of the consolidated Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which came into force in August 1990).
Since then data collection has been extended to cover other types of application requiring permission from local authorities, including listed building consents, conservation area consents and consent to display advertisements. This reflects the wider range of planning casework handled by district planning authorities. From April 1997, data have also been collected on receipt of Environmental Statements with planning applications, on the use of delegated powers, and on departure applications.
District planning authorities are sent the quarterly information bulletin together with more detailed figures for individual authorities in their respective Government Office region. These provide a set of yardsticks against which authorities can judge their own figures.
County councils, metropolitan district councils, London borough councils and national park authorities are responsible for determining planning applications and types of development described as 'county matters'. These are predominantly concerned with minerals extraction and waste disposal developments, as set out in Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Town and Country Planning (Prescription of County Matters) Regulations 1980 (SI 1980/2010), and in Annex 7 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 23'Planning and Pollution Control'.
Until March 1986 decisions made by county councils had been included in the returns (PS1/PS2) submitted by the district planning authorities. A review of these returns in 1985 recommended that information about county council applications should be collected separately, and a quarterly collection of county council development control statistics relating to county matters' planning applications (the CPS1/2 Return) was introduced from the beginning of April 1989.
From April 1992 data collection was extended to cover other types of authority (listed above) with responsibility for county matters' applications. From April 1995, the scope of the quarterly survey was widened to include collection of data on enforcement action taken by authorities relating to county matters' developments, and from April 1997, data have also been collected on receipt of Environmental Statements with county matters' planning applications.
All figures included in the commentary have been calculated using unrounded data.