Housing minister praises improved performance of LPAs

Local planning authorities are continuing to improve performance and respond to the government’s drive to deliver a quality, customer-focussed planning service, says housing and planning minister, Yvette Cooper.

Average performance across the country is up 4% for both major and minor applications and 3% for others in the year ending September 2005, compared to six months ago. There are also many individual success stories with 114 LPAs improving in performance.

55% of LPAs met or surpassed the government’s target to decide 60% of major applications within 13 weeks in the year ending September 2005. To improve performance in this area the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is offering additional funding to the Planning Advisory Service and Advisory Team on large applications to expand their support programmes for under-performing LPAs.

Cooper says: “High quality planning services are vital to delivering sustainable communities. I am encouraged to see that performance is improving across the board.

“LPAs have improved their planning performance with more applications being decided quickly, however we know more still needs to be done both to speed up the process and ensure a high quality planning service that reaches sensible decisions in the interest of the community.

“That is why we are supporting further reform to the planning system including a new review by Kate Barker of planning for economic development.”

The ODPM is also disengaging from four authorities, Mid Bedfordshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Stratford-on-Avon and Tower Hamlets, who were previously designated as poor performers, but have made significant improvements and are now achieving at least two of the three national targets. Cooper is writing to these authorities today to congratulate them and celebrate this success.

Also published today are the quarterly development control statistics July to September 2005. 80% of all planning decisions were made within eight weeks, 3% points higher than at the same period a year ago.