The enormous backlog in determining planning appeals has been reined in to relatively normal levels, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has claimed.
New statistics published by the government have shown that the waiting list has fallen from 4,700 in November 2004 to about 600 recently.
The lengthy delay was triggered by changes last year that saw a reduction from six months to three in the time allowed to take schemes to appeal for non-determination. As a consequence, developers and architects overwhelmed PINS with appeals.
If reliable, the new figures will come as a relief for the profession as thousands of architects were left in limbo waiting to get the go-ahead on major projects.
New planning minister Yvette Cooper said she was relieved that the inspectorate has regained control of the appeals process.
'I am encouraged to see that the Planning Inspectorate managed to reduce its backlog in appeals. The recent restructuring will also enable it to meet the demands of a rising workload both now and in the longer term.
'Over the past 4 years the number of appeals received has increased by over 38 per cent, putting pressure on timeliness; however, it is welcome that most of the other targets were met.'
The figures show that targets for enforcement cases were met, and performance in development plan inquiries also exceeded its targets for the provision of Inspectors and for the delivery of their reports.by Ed Dorrell