London councils escape DCLG special measures

Fri 4th October 2013, 11:58 am

The Department for Local Communities and Government (DCLG) has published planning performance figures that indicate London councils will not be designated for special measures.

Figures published this summer showed four London councils (Barnet, Lambeth, Lewisham and Hammersmith & Fulham) were at risk from being subjected to the measures.

According to government policy, if a council is not able to decide on major planning applications within 13 weeks for more than 30 per cent of all applications made over a period of two years, developers will get the option to submit planning applications for major developers directly to the Planning Inspectorate.

This measure can also be imposed if a local authority has not submitted performance data for at least seven quarters.

Barnet and Lambeth had sufficiently improved performance to escape measures. Lewisham and Hammersmith & Fulham were at risk because they had not submitted enough performance data to DCLG, but both have now submitted all missing figures.

The figures indicate DCLG will place three councils under the measures: Halton, Worthing and Blaby.

Joe Henry, assistant director for development management & building control at the London Borough of Barnet said: “Barnet’s major application performance for the 2two year special measures designation period (1 July 2011 – 30 June 2013) was 32 per cent of major applications decided within the measured target date. This is higher than the 30% special measures threshold for designation.

“Measures have now been put in place to ensure a high percentage of major applications are decided either within the statutory 13 week period or within such extended period as has been agreed in writing between the applicant and the local planning authority.”

The measures to improve performance taken by Barnet according to mr. Henry include hiring permanent staff rather than temporary staff as this attracts better quality candidates, streamlining application processes, using agencies to fill short-term vacancies and improve how staff resources are put to use.  

A further 26 councils may be placed in special measures regarding “county-matters” planning applications, which relate to minerals and waste.

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