HC Deb 12 March 1992 vol 205 cc648-9W
Mr. Stevens

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he has made in establishing the planning inspectorate executive agency under the "next steps" initiative.

Sir George Young

The planning inspectorate will be launched as an executive agency on 1 April 1992. A framework document setting out the organisational, financial and management structure of the agency will be published at that time.

The key objectives for the agency will be to preserve the impartiality and quality of the inspector's work while seeking to improve efficiency. A board of visitors will be established to ensure that quality standards are maintained. In addition, I have set the following key targets for the agency's work in England for 1992–93: Timeliness: Eighty per cent. of planning appeals by written representation to be decided within 22 weeks and to provide an inspector for local plan inquiries on request within 26 weeks of the end of the objection period; Financial: Unit costs (average) of these appeals not to exceed £706 per case; Efficiency: Generate a 2 per cent. efficiency improvement in the use of gross running costs compared with 1991–92; Quality: High Court appeals and/or other justified complaints allowed against Inspectors' decisions not to exceed 1 per cent. of intake; Volume: To determine 24,600 planning and enforcement appeals subject to intake not declining; Information and Guidance: To complete a customer survey by 31 December 1992.

These and other performance targets for the agency will be included in its business plan for 1992–93 which will be published shortly.

Separate targets for the agency's work in Wales are being announced today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.