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13/10/2016

North deciding more planning applications than London

Words: Laura Edgar
Consultation / Istock

New data suggests that local planning authorities in the Northern Powerhouse decided 22 per cent more major applications per resident over the past year than their counterparts in Greater London.

The fifth annual planning survey, published by the British Property Federation (BPF) and property consultant GL Hearn, examined major application decisions across 25 boroughs in the Northern Powerhouse.

It combines data on large application decisions from 74 local planning authorities and survey data from 385 developers and local planning officers across the country.

The survey notes that the region made 11 major planning application decisions per 100,000 residents, compared with nine decisions per 100,000 residents in Greater London.

Alastair Crowdy, managing director at Capita Real Estate Advisory and GL Hearn, said: “The fact that the Northern Powerhouse is deciding more major applications per resident than London is a hugely promising sign for growth in the North – and one that shows the consequent development has potential to drive economic growth right across the country.”

The survey suggests that despite a lack of resources at some local planning authorities, the planning system has broadly stabilised after “some years of flux”. Average decision-making times remained stable at 31 weeks, overall approval ratings for major applications held steady at about 87 per cent and there was a small dip in the overall volume determined.

Sixty-five per cent of planning officers and 36 per cent of developers said they were concerned that the planning system was getting worse. Eighty per cent of applicants were dissatisfied with the time it takes for decisions to be made – the highest figure since the survey began in 2012, said the BPF and GL Hearn.

But 56 per cent of applicants and 44 per cent of planning officers believe that planning performance reviews would improve decision-making times and reduce resourcing pressure at local planning authorities.

The survey also found:

  • 66 per cent of applicants believe permission in principle will improve decision-making times and reduce resourcing pressures at local planning authorities.

  • 19 per cent of planning officers believe permission in principle will improve decision-making times and reduce resourcing pressures at local planning authorities.

  • 53 per cent of planning officers support changes to planning applications fees, but only 31 per cent of applicants thought they would make a difference.

“Our survey data shows that the majority of the industry is concerned that the status quo isn’t going to be enough to deliver the development that Britain needs,” said Crowdy.

“It is clear that in a time of economic uncertainty it is unlikely that we’ll see the planning system receive a huge investment boost; we all know that there are other more pressing priorities for the government and for local authorities. As a result, we all need to work together – planners, developers and central government – to deliver innovative solutions and policies that will help get Britain planning again.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, said if the government wants to ensure that the development industry invests in towns and cities, brings about growth and regeneration and delivers the homes needed, then local authorities need to be sufficiently resourced.

Data from the Scottish planning system will be published on 25th October, 2016.

Image credit | iStock

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