Greater use of PPAs eyed for major projects

by Jim Dunton Fri 24 January 2014, 3:30 pm

Reading Borough Council is looking to increase the use of Planning Performance Agreements to ensure it keeps ahead of government targets for the determination of major planning applications.

An update to members of the authority’s planning applications committee has been told that the borough only decided 45 per cent of major applications within the required 13-week deadline during the  second quarter of the current financial year. The government’s target for councils is 60 per cent.

Major applications are defined as residential schemes with 10 or more homes, or commercial schemes of 1,000 sq metres or more.

Borough council planning manager David Breeze said that the authority's performance for the quarter was still above the Department for Communities and Local Government’s 30 per cent threshold, said to signify that a council was “not adequately performing”.

However he said the target was likely to increase to 40 per cent this year.

“To address this, officers will encourage use of Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) and written agreement by applicants to bespoke timescales for major applications to ensure that statistical returns to CLG indicate that major applications are decided in a time period agreed with the applicant rather than simply against the 13 week statutory time period,” he said.

“These changes will begin to show an improvement in performance against the relevant indicator.”

Breeze added that from March this year councils would be required to return developers’ fees if they failed to determine applications within 26 weeks, unless there was a PPA or other agreed extension in place.

The new system applies to applications submitted after 1 October last year.

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