Skip to main content

Planning

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are today announcing provisional allocations of the first tranche of £28.8 million out of a total of £120 million of planning delivery grant (PDG) for 2007-08. We are also announcing additional support to local planning authorities in preparing local development frameworks.

Planning Delivery Grant Allocations

Planning delivery grant is paid to local authorities and other bodies to support improvement in the delivery of planning services. Over the period 2003-08 the Government will have made available a total of £605 million through PDG. Kate Barker’s review, published today, and our own independent impact monitoring acknowledge the benefits which the grant has had in raising the profile of planning, providing additional resources for both development management and plan-making, and incentivising improvement in performance against the background of a rapidly expanding volume of applications.

The announcement today includes the first tranche of awards for performance in improving the speed of handling planning applications in the year ending June 2006. These awards amount to £14.5 million, with a further allocation of £500,000 in respect of mineral and waste applications.

As last year, grant allocations for development control performance have been reduced for those authorities whose performance in defending appeals is significantly below the national average. Authorities that are at least 40 per cent worse than the national average of 33.26 per cent have their development control allocation abated by 10 per cent, and for those whose performance is at least 50 per cent worse, the abatement increases to 20 per cent. This is to ensure that the grant is not rewarding poor-quality decisions.

Authorities participating in a housing market renewal pathfinder have been allocated £100,000 each from a total of £2.5 million to pump-prime planning efforts to tackle low demand. In addition, authorities identified by the Chancellor as having enterprise areas within their boundaries are provisionally allocated a share of £2.2 million to recognise challenges of high deprivation; it is intended to work alongside existing forms of government assistance, such as exemption from stamp duty, and neighbourhood renewal projects.

Regional planning bodies (RPBs) receive provisional allocations totalling £3 million to support their work preparing regional spatial strategies and in recognition of the additional work which the strengthened regional planning function involves. RPB performance against business plans has been satisfactory, and there are no proposals to abate these awards. The Greater London Authority (GLA) receives £50,000 for its contribution to improving planning in London.

The remaining £6 million of the grant will be used to support a number of national initiatives and is broken down as follows: the Planning Advisory Service and the Advisory Team for Large Applications will be allocated £2 million each, for their work supporting local authority planning performance; £1 million will be allocated to the Planning Inspectorate for its work on local development plan preparation; and, finally, there is £1 million to fund postgraduate planning bursaries to increase capacity in local planning authorities and address difficulties caused by the shortage of qualified planners.

The provisional allocations will be finalised and a final determination made in April 2007. A further allocation for the remainder of PDG will be made in June 2007, which will include the second tranche of development control, progress on plan-making and sustainable development, e-planning and housing in high-demand areas. This represents a further £91 million of planning delivery grant.

A table showing the provisional amounts payable is available in the Libraries of both Houses. This sets out the details of each recipient's provisional grant allocations for development control, enterprise areas and low housing demand together with abatements for poor appeals performance.

Local Development Frameworks

The new local development frameworks (LDFs) are bringing together community members, infrastructure providers and the development industry to draw up new plans for the provision of homes, jobs and community facilities. It is therefore vital that local authorities have the key documents up to date and in place as soon as possible. The production of local development frameworks is proceeding, with considerable work under way in local authorities across the country, some of which have given little attention to this side of their responsibilities in the past. The new system is very different from the old, and we are setting out additional support for LAs to complete this round of LDFs. The Government are also introducing immediate additional support to local planning authorities in this area.

First, we are preparing some illustrations of how different kinds of core strategies might look, to give further guidance to LPAs, and we will publish these before Christmas. A number of staff from the Planning Inspectorate will provide additional support and advice to local planning authorities through Government Offices. My department is today publishing some key reports from the Spatial Plans in Practice project which identify emerging good practice. The Planning Advisory Service continues to provide key support to local authorities on their LDF responsibilities through seminars and producing a diagnostic tool for assessing LPAs’ capabilities, which is being trialled in 22 authorities.

Following the submission of annual monitoring reports at the end of this year and any review of what documents may need to be prepared to support implementation of the new PPS3, we will be expecting LPAs to make final adjustments to their local development schemes. Thereafter, Government Offices will be treating them as the definitive programme management documents which will only be departed from in exceptional circumstances.

We will be working with local planning authorities and the planning profession to see how the new system can be further streamlined for the next round of LDFs once core strategies are in place. Copies of all supporting documents are being placed in the House Libraries.