§ The Earl of Iveagh
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans, if any, they have to alleviate delays in the planning system. [HL667]
§ Lord Whitty
The Government are committed to making the planning system operate more efficiently and effectively. My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning set out a range of measures to achieve this in the Modernising Planning Statement he published on 15 January 1998. This included proposals to improve the arrangements for delivering local plans and unitary development plans; quicker handling of planning appeals; and improving local planning performance through Best Value. A number of other initiatives are under way, including a review of consultation procedures for planning applications; and a review of procedures for handling listed building consent applications.
The department sets targets for the handling of planning appeals by the Planning Inspectorate. We have recently published improved, long-term targets so that, by 2001–02, the inspectorate will be expected to decide appeals by written representations within 16 weeks; appeals by hearing within 22 weeks; and appeals by inquiry within 30 weeks.
The Government are continuing to monitor closely local authorities' planning performance and publish regular Planning Performance Checklists. My honourable friend is currently holding a series of meetings with a selection of local authorities in each English region to discuss development control and development plan preparation. These meetings are part of our wider commitment to work in partnership with local government to improve the planning system as part of the Modernising Planning initiative and provide an opportunity to share good practice experience.