A lack of qualified inspectors, outdated administrative procedures and poor IT infrastructure have been blamed for spiralling delays in dealing with planning appeals.
Bridget Rosewell, who was appointed to conduct a review of the appeals system last year, offered her verdict in a report published today.
She found the average time taken to decide a planning appeal inquiry could be reduced from an average of 47 weeks to around 26 weeks.
The government has agreed to adopt her 22 recommendations, which include the recruitment of additional inspectors and the launch of a new online portal for submission of appeals, in a bid to achieve its target of delivering 300,000 homes each year by the mid-2020s.
Ms Rosewell said: “It’s critical that all parts of the planning system contribute towards the efficient delivery of the homes we need as well as the refusal of those which don’t meet our high standards.
“My review found, with commitment from all involved, that speeding up inquiries can be achieved through straightforward reforms, shaving months off the current time it takes for inspectors to make a decision.
“I’m pleased my report has been welcomed by the government and the Planning Inspectorate and look forward to seeing these changes being implemented.”
The Planning Inspectorate will now prepare an implementation plan.
Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “Planning appeal inquiries have held up development and kept communities waiting in limbo – 47 weeks on average is far too long to wait for a decision on something so important as a proposal for new development.
“That’s why I welcome Bridget’s diligent work over the last six months, which has produced a fantastic report and provided us with a clear direction of travel on how we can ensure the appeals inquiry process is fit for purpose.”