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Local authorities facing planning ‘special measures’ revealed

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A list of the 23 worst performing local planning authorities has been revealed

The rankings have emerged from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which has released tables detailing the speed and quality of decisions on planning applications for major developments. The report gives an indication of which councils could be facing special measures later this year.

Local authorities which could be placed in special measures unless they improve their performance include:

  • Halton
  • Barnet
  • North East Derbyshire
  • Tandridge
  • Cherwell
  • Lambeth
  • Flyde
  • Daventry
  • Horsham
  • Blaby
  • East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Barnsley
  • Kirklees
  • Northumberland
  • Hertfordshire
  • Wigan
  • Doncaster
  • Peak District National Park
  • Cheshire East
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Bury
  • Hartlepool and
  • Telford and Wrekin

Under the policy local authorities which determine less than 30 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks will be placed in special measures, meaning that developers can bypass the planners and go straight to the planning inspectorate for a decision.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has hit out against the plans, saying it could result in local councillors being ‘locked out of decisions on major developments’.

It also believes that the criteria for putting local authorities into special measures is ‘fundamentally flawed’.

Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: ‘This is an unnecessary and fundamentally flawed approach that will do nothing to help growth. Councils say yes to 87 per cent of applications of this type, and have been focusing on working with developers to iron out problems, improve development and make the right decision rather than turning down an application to meet a deadline. Councils are now being told long after the fact that they should have been focusing instead on a ticking clock.

‘It means that rather than important decisions being made by elected representatives in a forum where local people can have a say, they will instead be made behind closed doors by an unelected bureaucrat from Bristol. This is a massive blow to transparency and a major step backwards for the planning system in this country.

‘We agree with the need for timely and good quality planning decisions. But this is an absolutely wrong and counterproductive way to go about it. If there are genuine concerns about the length of time being taken to make planning decisions in some areas, the solution should lie in working with the council to improve, not removing them from the planning process entirely.’

The local authorities placed in special measures are likely to be announced in October, after data for the two year period up to June 2013 has become available.

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