Big Improvements in Planning Decision Speeds
Planning decisions in Brighton & Hove are being made more quickly and are now far-exceeding government standards.
New figures were in a performance report to a recent council policy committee.
In September this year the city council was deciding 92.54 per cent of major applications within the government’s 13-week limit. Whitehall expects 60 per cent to be decided inside this period. In September 2015 the council was achieving just under 69 per cent.
Speed of decisions of minor applications has increased by 20 per cent in a year, to just over 80 per cent. The government target is 70 per cent. In September 2015 the council was only achieving 50 per cent.
The number of decisions overturned by the government when an applicant appeals is also dropping – and well within the national target of 10 per cent. Just 4.35 per cent of major applications were overturned and 2.35 per cent of minors.
Improvements have come as a result of implementing recommendations from March 2016 by the independent National Planning Advisory Service (NPAS) who were called in by the council. Among these were improved technology, streamlining administration systems and recruiting more staff.
Major schemes approved in 2017 have included the £300m redevelopment of the Preston Barracks and Brighton University car parks off Lewes Road, a 1000-pupil secondary school and new primary at West Blatchington, a four-story A&E department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and a new Life Sciences centre at the University of Sussex.
Around 1000 new homes have been approved in various major schemes around the city in 2017.
Planning committee chair Cllr Julie Cattell said: “Thanks to the brilliant efforts of staff and some smarter ways of working we’ve made a big improvement in our planning service. We’re not complacent and know there is more to do. But we’re heading in the right direction. We’re highly aware how crucial a good planning department is in enabling growth and creating jobs and homes.”
The report is among agenda papers for the recent policy committee, which can be found here.