HC Deb 17 March 1997 vol 292 cc456-7W
Mr. Sykes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what performance targets he has set for the Planning Inspectorate agency for the financial year 1997–98. [20804]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

I have today set key targets for the Planning Inspectorate in England in furtherance of the dual objectives of securing improved efficiency, and safeguarding the impartiality and quality of the agency's work. These targets form part of the phased programme of performance which I initiated last year. The targets for 1997–98 are:

  • Timeliness
    1. (a) 80 per cent. of all planning appeals decided by written representations to be determined in 20 weeks, reducing to 18 weeks by 1998–99;
    2. (b) 80 per cent. of all planning appeals decided by hearings to be determined in 33 weeks, reducing to 24 weeks by 1998–99;
    3. (c) 80 per cent. of all planning appeals decided by inquiries to be determined in 44 weeks, reducing to 36 weeks by 1998–99;
    4. (d) to provide an inspector for 80 per cent. of local plan inquiries on request within 26 weeks of the end of the objection period, and to deliver 90 per cent. of inspectors' reports to local authorities by the dates agreed in service agreements;
  • Financial
    1. (a) unit costs of planning appeals decided by written representations not to exceed £690;
    2. (b) recover 90 per cent. of receipts within eight weeks of invoice date;
  • Efficiency
    • generate a 3 per cent. efficiency improvement in the use of running costs compared with 1996–97;
  • Quality
    • to satisfy the Advisory Panel on Standards, and thus the Secretary of State, annually and following rigorous monitoring, that the quality of the inspectorate's work is being maintained at a high standard with 99 per cent. of its casework free from justified complaint;
  • Information and guidance
    • to carry out a customer satisfaction survey of the quality of Inspectors' reasoning in decision letters.