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Planning Inspectorate: Annual Report And Accounts

Volume 592: debated on Tuesday 28 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to publish the Planning Inspectorate's annual report and accounts for 1997–98. [HL3136]

We have today together with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales published the Planning Inspectorate's Annual Report and Accounts. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.The inspectorate has just completed the second of a three-year programme to restore appeal handling times to optimum levels. Although it has not yet met its timeliness targets, it has improved handling times significantly. We expect them to improve further during 1998–99.The agency has also maintained the programme of development plan inquiries to a high standard, helping to create a greater certainty for all involved in the planning process as more areas are covered by up to date development plans.The inspectorate's quality target was met and exceeded, with reduced numbers of justified complaints against decisions issued. Surveys have continued to show that its decisions are widely respected. It has also produced an outstanding financial performance during the last year. The inspectorate is very much involved in initiatives to develop the Government's proposals for the modernisation of the planning system. In the climate of a rapidly changing environment it is always ready to take on new areas of work in dispute resolution.In December 1997 the inspectorate achieved Investors in People status—the first agency within the merged Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to do so. We congratulate all its staff on the very substantial effort that this involved.