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Planning Applications

Volume 570: debated on Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Government are committed to ensuring that planning applications and related consents are processed promptly. Local people and authorities should be at the heart of planning, but where councils persistently fail to meet statutory deadlines for making decisions on time, applicants will be given the option of asking the Planning Inspectorate to decide their proposal instead.

Planning is a quasi-judicial process, and delays in making decisions are unfair both to local residents and local firms; justice delayed is justice denied. Individual applicants can already appeal directly to the Planning Inspectorate to have their application considered on grounds of non-determination (i.e. not determining an application within statutory deadlines).

In addition, section 1 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 has amended the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) by inserting new sections 62A to 62C. Section 62A allows a planning application, or an application for reserved matters consent, to be made directly to the Secretary of State where the local planning authority has been designated by him, provided the planning application (or the application for reserved matters consent) is for major development.

Applications made to the Secretary of State in this way will be submitted to and determined by the Planning Inspectorate, but the Act allows these to be “recovered” for Ministers’ own decision, in a similar way to planning appeals.

In the interests of transparency and consistency, decisions on whether to recover appeals are made with reference to published criteria. For planning applications made under section 62A the Secretary of State will employ the same criteria in deciding whether to recover the application for ministerial decision. A policy statement setting out these criteria has been placed in the Library of the House.