§ Mr. Kenneth Carlisle
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will give guidance to local planning authorities aimed at speeding up the planning appeals process.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
Our policy is to speed up the planning appeals process and make it more efficient, without any loss of quality of decision. We can achieve this by cutting out unnecessary delay, by encouraging better communication between planners and the public, and by setting and achieving targets for handling times.
In a circular to local authorities published today we have set out guidelines for the handling of the 85 per cent. of appeals decided on the basis of written representations and a site visit. It includes a revised timetable for the handling of these appeals and as a further measure we intend to publish shortly a consultation paper on proposals for regulations to help speed up written representations appeals. To facilitate earlier decisions the regulations would in particular enable time limits to be prescribed for the various stages of the procedures. In this way we can reduce the period of uncertainty for all who may be affected by an appeal decision.
Today's circular also sets out to revise procedures under which the planning inspectorate will fix earlier inquiry dates for those appeals where a public local inquiry or hearing is to take place.