asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the annual cost to the taxpayer involved in the production of structure plans by the local authorities; and what savings can be expected once these plans have been produced.
No precise figures are available. The estimate of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy of expenditure by counties in England and Wales on planning policy work—which would include the preparation of structure plans—was £22 million in 1978–79. Part of this would have been borne by the taxpayer by way of rate support grant. I have been urging local planning authorities to simplify and speed up their work in this field.Savings in the development process can certainly be expected from the pressure of up-to-date structure plans. These cannot be evaluated: neither can the benefits of bringing the public into the structure planning process.