MHCLG have announced proposals to reduce the amount of time taken to decide on ‘the most contentious’ planning cases by up to five months, giving house builders and local communities more say on when decisions will be made.
Bridget Rosewell CBE said the average time to decide a planning appeal inquiry could be slashed from an average of 47 weeks to around 26 weeks.
On the proposals, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said ‘speeding up’ these decisions can help government achieve its ambition of delivering 300,000 homes each year by the mid-2020s.
The wide-ranging review concluded outdated administrative processes and poor IT infrastructure were unnecessarily holding up cases, with the report also suggesting that a lack of ‘suitably qualified’ inspectors was also hampering efforts to set up inquiry hearings on time.
A total of 22 recommendations have been made in the report, including that of committing the Planning Inspectorate to introducing a new online portal for the submission of inquiry appeals, to setting out a strategy for recruiting additional inspectors so inquiries can be scheduled sooner.
The Planning Inspectorate will prepare an implementation plan which will set out precisely how it will deliver these recommendations.
The ‘Rosewell Review’ is part of the government’s programme of reforms and targeted investment to ensure the delivery of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
On her report, Mrs Bridget Rosewell CBE said: “It’s critical that all parts of the planning system contribute towards the efficient delivery of the homes we need as well as the refusal of those which don’t meet our high standards.
“My review found, with commitment for all involved, that speeding up inquiries can be achieved through straightforward reforms, shaving months off the current time it takes for inspectors to make a decision.
She added: “I’m pleased my report has been welcomed by the government and the Planning Inspectorate and look forward to seeing these changes being implemented.”
Further providing comment, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “Planning appeal inquiries have held up development and kept communities waiting in limbo – 47 weeks on average is far too long to wait for a decision on something so important as a proposal for new development.
“That’s why I welcome Bridget’s diligent work over the last six months, which has produced a fantastic report and provided us with a clear direction of travel on how we can ensure the appeals inquiry process is fit for purpose.
“Reducing the time it takes to secure crucial decisions ensures the delivery of more homes, in the right places, and will help us reach our ambition of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.”