Government proposes 'simpler, swifter planning system'
Thu 04 Aug 2011
Plans to create a "simpler" and "swifter" planning system have been unveiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
According to planning minister Greg Clark, many people are being left in "planning limbo" due to a large number of applications getting "stuck in the system for too long".
As a result, the government is planning to speed up the process with its new Planning Guarantee - a pledge that decisions on proposed developments will always be made inside a year.
Mr Barker said this would give greater certainty to local communities and ensure procedures are fairer for everybody, including both households and businesses.
He added that with the Planning Guarantee in place, every single application would be handled "quickly and fairly".
Colette McCormack, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "The Planning Guarantee promises a 12-month time frame for decisions but the practical details are missing. As there is reference to "starting and stopping the clock" within the period will 12 months really mean 12 months?
"Most applications are already dealt with in the statutory and policy guidelines. But without real sanctions on local authorities for non-compliance with deadlines, the Guarantee is unlikely to resolve the issues for those which hit delays - it is more likely to add another target driven layer of bureaucracy and confusion without actually making the process quicker.
"We all support a quicker and cheaper system but the real key to that is likely to be effective pre-application consultation and proper resourcing of local authority planning departments - unfortunately they are likely to become slower still as public sector cuts begin to bite."
This comes after the government outlined its intention to simplify the process of bringing vacant commercial properties back to life, so the buildings can be used for new community projects or business ventures.
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