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Planning Inspectorate

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(Mr. Tony McNulty)

I am pleased to announce today the targets I have set this year for the Planning Inspectorate Executive Agency.We are reforming the planning system to make it faster, fairer and more efficient. I need to ensure that the Planning Inspectorate is well placed to respond robustly to the increasing demands for its services and to the changes we are introducing. We have set in hand a business process "end to end" review

* of the Planning Inspectorate which will be completed by the Autumn and there are implications for the Inspectorate in the provisions of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill which is currently before Parliament.

Against this background I have decided to maintain most of the existing targets in place for this year. These are set out below. The exceptions are the targets for the completion of Inspectors' reports on called-in planning applications and recovered appeals and for appeals going to hearings.

In line with the Office's PSA6 target, by March 2004 80 per cent. of Planning Inspectors' reports to the Secretary of State on called-in and recovered appeal cases must be delivered within seven weeks of the close of the inquiry.

The only other change involves the timeliness target for planning appeals going to hearings, which, in order to deal with a backlog of cases, is now the same as for planning appeals going to inquiry.

These targets are not just about speed, they are about reaching the right decision and providing the community with a quality service. The Planning Inspectorate is responding well to the challenge this presents.

TIMELINESS

Planning Appeals

Eighty per cent. of all planning appeals decided by written representations to be determined within 16 weeks.

Eighty per cent. of all planning appeals decided by hearings to be determined within 30 weeks.

Eighty per cent. of all planning appeals decided by inquiries to be determined within 30 weeks.

Enforcement Appeals

Eighty per cent. of all enforcement appeals decided by written representation to be determined within 32 weeks.

Eighty per cent. of all enforcement appeals decided by hearings to be determined within 33 weeks.

Eighty per cent. of all enforcement appeals to be decided by inquiries to be determined within 43 weeks.

Called In and Recovered Appeals

By March 2004, 80 per cent. of Inspectors' reports to the Secretary of State on called-in and recovered appeal cases to be delivered within seven weeks of the close of the inquiry.

Development Plan inquiries

To provide an Inspector for development plan inquiries in 90 per cent. of cases on the date requested by the local authority, provided that the objection period has ended and at least six months' notice has been given.

To deliver 90 per cent. of Inspectors' reports on development plan inquiries to local authorities according to timescales agreed under service agreements.

QUALITY

To satisfy the Advisory Panel on Standards for the Planning Inspectorate, and thus the Secretary of State and the First Minister of the National Assembly for Wales, annually and following rigorous monitoring, that the quality of all the Inspectorate's work is being maintained at a high standard, with 99 per cent. of its casework free from justified complaint.

INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE

To undertake a time series customer satisfaction survey of the Inspectorate's performance and to act upon the results.

* This review, whose conclusions will feed into the 2004 spending review round, was announced in Parliament by Mr Tony McNulty, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, on 4 February, 2003, Official Report, column 9WS.