§ Sir Anthony Grant
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average length of time it has taken him to decide an appeal against local planning authorities decisions in each of the last three years; what steps he is taking to speed the process; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. William Waldegrave
The median time from receipt to decision for all appeals in each of the last three years is as follows:
weeks 1985 20 1986 21 1987 24
The number of planning appeals received has been increasing in the past three years at about 11 per cent. per year. A total of 21,548 were received in 1987. The increased number of appeals has meant that processing times have not improved as planned. The following steps have been taken, or are in hand to remedy this:— regulations setting a timetable for the variable stages of the written representations procedure and offering the opportunity of a simplified process, if appropriate, were made in May 1987;—additional resources have been allocated to the planning inspectorate (more inspectors and administrative staff) in order to deal with the additional work;—the Department has invested in information technology in order to speed up the preparation of decision letters; and— revised inquiries procedure rules will soon be introduced, which will, inter alia, contain timetabling provisions to speed up the process of fixing inquiries and which will help the inspectorate to make better use of existing resources.
There has been a reduction to 22 weeks in the overall median time from receipt to decision of those appeals decided in December 1987.