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Planning response rate reaches record levels

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Natural England says it has reached a “record level” of response rate for planning consultations.

Natural England, the government’s conservation adviser, said it is responding to 98.9 per cent of planning consultations within its deadline.

The number of planning applications responded to rose 9.8 per cent to 14,000 in 2013-14, compared to the previous year.

Natural England’s target is to respond to 95 per cent of consultations within 21 days or an otherwise agreed deadline.

In 2008-09, around 83 per cent of planning application responses were issued within the agreed timeframe.

Rob Cooke, Natural England’s director of sustainable development, said staff had worked hard over the last few years to improve the service.

“Each planning application can be an opportunity to secure sustainable development that benefits both the economy and the environment,” he said. “By providing sound advice quickly and efficiently we’re helping industry to turn those aspirations into reality.”

Natural England puts the improvements down to a combination of factors. These include forming a central team to respond to planning applications of low environmental impact, placements in development sectors to gain insight into customer needs, revised advice for planning authorities so they are less likely to need to contact Natural England, and a pre-application advice service for developers.