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​Fast track applications to boost housebuilding

News   •   Feb 18, 2016 12:24 GMT

New proposals will see Councils able to speed up planning process

New proposals, out for consultation today, will see a shake up of the planning process, with a fast track application service implemented.

It is intended to drive council innovation and efficiency, support housebuilding and speed up planning process.

The Government is proposing competition in handling planning applications and increasing choice for applicants, including a fast track application service. The proposals will help to tackle the lack of incentive for councils to improve and speed up their planning service, which can lead to long delays in applications and frustrations for housebuilders.

Applicants will be given a choice of whether to submit their plans to the local council, a competing council or a government approved organisation that would process applications up until the decision point.

Although decision making would remain with local councils, maintaining the democratic link between local voters and decision makers.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Council planning departments play a vital role in getting local housebuilding off the ground, but for too long they have had no incentive to get things done quickly or better, resulting in drawn out applications and local frustration.

“These proposals will be a boost for housebuilders looking to build much needed new homes for hard working families and first time buyers, and for local people looking to get a planning permission for home improvements through their local council quicker.”

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Many councils are already working hard to improve the services they offer their residents, and across the country people’s satisfaction levels remain high.

“Now we want to go further by setting out these ambitious proposals to link any future increases in application fees to councils’ performance, and testing more competition including through offering dedicated fast track application services.

“Historically councils have had a ‘closed market’ in handling planning applications, with limited incentive for innovation and efficiency.

“However research studies over the last three decades in the UK and abroad suggest there are cost savings of up to a fifth for competitively tendered or shared services.”

The consultation also includes proposals to make any future increases in councils’ fees for processing planning applications dependent on their performance in terms of speed and quality of decisions.

Other measures in the consultation, which is related to the Housing and Planning Bill, cover:

  • details of how a new planning ‘permission in principle’ approach will work in practice
  • how councils will run brownfield land and small sites registers
  • speeding up the neighbourhood planning process
  • improving handling of planning applications with new thresholds for designating councils as poor performers
  • extending permitted development rights for free schools

A separate consultation also published today seeks views on more housebuilding in London through allowing taller buildings, subject to conditions.

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