Under the new plans designed to help housebuilders push schemes through more quickly, developers would have a choice of submitting a planning application to the local council, a competing council or a Government approved organisation that would process applications up until the decision point.
Councils would also be able to offer the fast track planning application service – possibly through competition pilots or potentially through devolution deals.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark (left) said, “Council planning departments play a vital role in getting local housebuilding off the ground, but for too long they have had no incentive to get things done quickly or better, resulting in drawn out applications and local frustration.
“These proposals will be a boost for house builders looking to build much needed new homes for hard working families and first time buyers, and for local people looking to get a planning permission for home improvements through their local council quicker.”
Given that planning is consistently listed as a major barrier to building more homes, the Government’s ambitious reform proposals have been warmly welcomed by Laura Smith, CBI Head of Construction and Manufacturing.
But she also pointed out that there is a mismatch between ambition and delivery, with local planning departments lacking the resources they sorely need.
Smith commented, “For these proposals on competition, planning in principle and enhanced fees to have a real impact, they must go hand-in-hand with addressing levels of resourcing.”
He said, “Across the country, SME housebuilders continue to be frustrated by a painfully slow planning process that is holding back the delivery of new homes. The numerous sources of delays and inefficiencies in the system impact upon house building rates, and act as a major deterrent to small developers who need to see speedy returns on their investments. Anything which encourages innovation and incentivises councils to deal with applications with greater urgency must be welcome.”