Planning deadline ‘may stifle growth’

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The Government’s attempts to get Britain building again by imposing tighter deadlines on the consideration of planning applications could backfire with more being refused as a result, a council has warned.

A “planning guarantee” was announced last year as part of the Government’s Plan for Growth, which requires that all local authority applications should be determined within 26 weeks by a council, and by a further 26 weeks if an appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate.

But a report to Hull Council’s planning committee warns the impact of more stringent time scales may lead to more applications being refused by councils concerned about missing the deadlines, and that developers will receive less assistance from officers with their plans.

It said: “The majority of major planning applications within the city are approved and this sometimes is at the expense of swift decisions. For example, many schemes require detailed assessments and re-designs of the proposal to ensure it reaches a stage which is acceptable to officers and members, and ultimately approval.

“Therefore the speed of the decision is not always the critical measure as many developers would prefer approval after 30 weeks rather than a refusal at 25 weeks.”

It adds: “Officers in Hull generally have a good relationship with developers, helping them through the planning process and seeking solutions with them to any problems which arise during the determination of their applications.

“Giving much stricter deadlines to applicants will mean that if solutions are not found then applications will need to be refused. This appears to go against the Governments’s approach to development, which is to approve more applications to stimulate the economy.”

Hull determined 94 per cent of all applications within the deadline.