The authorities will be required to handle 65% of their planning cases in eight weeks. The objective is to ensure that the authorities take a significant step towards the overall 80% target. These 15 authorities handled less than 50% of their applications in eight weeks in 1998/99 and 1999/2000.
Announcing the best value performance standard, planning minister Nick Raynsford said: 'The 65% standard is still short of the 80% target that we expect authorities to attain. It is a standard that we regard as realistic and achievable. It is not a relaxation, but a first step towards reaching 80%. I expect that the authorities in the frame to take urgent steps to meet the challenge that we have set.'
'Planning must be seen as a positive force, acting to deliver policy at the local level, responding swiftly and effectively. Because it affects the economic viability of local people running local businesses, it is important to offer a quality service to them when they put a planning application into a local planning authority.
'But for too long, many authorities have had a poor record at handling planning applications. Now the poorest fifteen performers will be required to handle their applications more quickly next year. The failure of an authority to meet our new target will normally be regarded as failure to achieve best value in their planning service.'
The guidance is being sent to all local authorities.
1. Local planning authorities have been set the target of determining 80% of the planning applications they receive in eight weeks. The current average performance against that target is 63%.
2. Under best value, local authorities have a duty of continuous improvement in the delivery of their services. Section 4 of the Local Government Act 1999 gives the secretary of state the power to set standards which authorities should achieve.
3. After consultation in the autumn, the government has published guidance on best value for 2001/02. It includes a performance standard for those authorities that determined less than 50% of planning applications made to them within eight weeks in both 1998/99 and 1999/2000. The standard will require them to determine at least
65% of their applications in 2001/02 within eight weeks.
4. Early in the new year the government will make an order under section 4 of 1999 Act to give effect to the standard.
5. There are 15 authorities that will be subject to the standard. They are:
6. Corby DC, East Hants DC, Epping Forest DC, Guildford DC, Harborough DC, RB Kingston on Thames, LB Lambeth, LB Merton, Oxford City council, Reading DC, Restormel DC, Sevenoaks DC, Trafford MBC, Wokingham UA and Wychavon DC.