Govt to develop new method of measuring council performance
The government is working with planning professionals to establish how planning departments will be judged to be poorly performing under controversial new reform measures.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is understood to be talking to senior council planners to help define what qualifies as poor performance in the speed and quality of decisions.
It follows communities secretary Eric Pickles' announcement last month that the government intends to legislate to allow the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to decide applications if an English council has “a track record of consistently poor performance” on decision-making.
The DCLG has yet to make clear how it intends to judge whether council planning teams are consistently poorly performing.
The Royal Town Planning Institute said the speed of a judgement can depend on “a huge range of local factors as well as resourcing”.
Planning Officers Society president Malcolm Sharp said the report shows that most councils are doing a good job and the society would support the few that appear to have problems.
He added that it is important to use a planning performance agreement (PPA) where possible for major applications, which involves setting a clear timetable to process schemes outside normal time targets.
British Property Federation senior policy officer Ghislaine Trehearne said the government needs to give PPAs more strength:
“At present, they are not legally enforceable and are therefore toothless in the face of any disagreements.”
In his ministerial statement on the reforms, Pickles said that the government will work with the Local Government Association to increase the use of PPAs.
A DCLG spokesman said: “This report is part of a package of measures both to highlight the best and worst performing councils in the country, and to work with the worst to help raise their game.
We will publish more information about the planning guarantee in due course.”
The report is available via Planning Resource.co.uk/go/referencesection
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