Gravityscan Badge DCLG unveils further details of 'special measures' plan — Alrewas Neighbourhood Plan

DCLG unveils further details of ‘special measures’ plan

By Jamie Carpenter Tuesday, 04 June 2013

Local hearings will be held by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to help determine applications where developers have chosen to bypass planning departments that have been placed in 'special measures', the government has revealed.

Poorly performing planning teams face 'special measures'

The Department for Communities and Local Government today unveiled further details of its "special measures" policy, under which developers would be allowed to make applications directly to PINS if councils have a poor track record in the speed of decisions or the proportion of applications overturned on appeal.

A consultation on the plans, which was published in November 2012, had proposed that such applications should be examined "principally by means of written representations, with the option of a short hearing to allow the key parties to briefly put their points across".

But the DCLG said today that a local hearing "will be appropriate in most cases, rather than the written representations proposed in the consultation". "This will allow the key issues to be aired in public before the decision maker," it said.

In its response to the consultation, the DCLG said that full details of the process will be set out in regulations and guidance, "but will be modelled on relevant aspects of the local planning committee process". The inspector would issue a decision "shortly after the end of the hearing", the DCLG said.

The DCLG’s consultation response also says that authorities placed in special measures will not receive a portion of the application fee for tasks carried out on behalf of PINS, including putting up site notices and notifying neighbours, providing the planning history for the site, or recording the application on the planning register.

It said that the tasks "are very limited in nature" and added that withholding a portion of the fee from designated authorities "should be seen as part of the disincentive to poor performance which the wider policy represents".

The DCLG’s consultation response confirmed that local planning authorities will be placed in special measures if they determine 30 per cent or fewer major applications on time, or if more than 20 per cent of major decisions are overturned at appeal.

It said that it intends to make the first special measures designations in October this year.

The DCLG said that the thresholds would be kept under review, "with the intention of raising them over time to help drive improvements in performance".

Under the system, designations will be made – and reviewed - once a year, the department’s consultation response says. "There should be an opportunity for designations to be lifted as quickly as possible, while at the same time allowing time for authorities to improve and avoiding frequent changes in their status."

Planning Performance and the Planning Guarantee: Government response to consultation is available here.

via DCLG unveils further details of 'special measures' plan.

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