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Local planning authorities were today urged to improve their ...
Local planning authorities were today urged to improve their

performance in handling planning applications by planning minister

Nick Raynsford.

Mr Raynsford was commenting on figures published in the latest

Planning Performance Checklist and in the quarterly statistics on

planning applications. These show that although 60 of the 362 local

planning authorities have improved the speed with which they make

planning decisions (up from 46 last year) and 30 authorities have met

the government's target for making decisions, the overall percentage

of decisions made within eight weeks has not increased.

Commenting on the figures, he said:

'A record number of councils has achieved a sustained and significant

improvement in their performance over the last two years, despite

their workload increasing by almost double the national average. This

shows that where there is a real will to drive up standards, great

advances can be made. I congratulate the improvers. However, the

overall percentage of decisions by authorities within 8 weeks remains

at 63%: this is just not good enough.

'Local planning authorities have a key role in facilitating

investment which will provide jobs and homes and help business and

local communities to thrive. It is vital that the service they offer

to business and others is as efficient and effective as possible.

Authorities' performance on handling planning applications must be


'Best value calls for continuous improvements in all local authority

services. I expect local authorities' Best Value Performance Plans to

contain clear commitments to address weaknesses in their planning

service and firm measures to tackle shortcomings where performance on

processing planning applications needs to be improved.

'For our part, we shall continue to progress other initiatives to

help authorities to streamline their handling of planning

applications. These include advice on improving the statutory

consultation process, following recent review, and commissioning new

research to highlight best practice in authorities' use of

information technology and exploring ways in which use of IT could

bring further benefits.'

In the year ending 31 March 2000:

- local planning authorities made, on average, 63 per cent of

planning decisions within 8 weeks

- 30 planning authorities met or surpassed the government's target

of deciding 80 per cent of planning applications within 8 weeks

- 98 planning authorities decided 70 per cent or more of

applications within 8 weeks

- 37 planning authorities decided fewer than 50 per cent of

applications within 8 weeks

- 8 planning authorities decided fewer than 40 per cent of

applications within 8 weeks

- 60 planning authorities are classified as improvers

Planning Performance Checklists are published every six months. They

enable people to see at a glance how quickly their local planning

authority is reaching decisions on planning applications and how its

performance in this respect compares with that of other authorities.

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