Council in firing line over slow planning decisions

Lambeth Town Hall, by Laura Spargo
Lambeth Town Hall, by Laura Spargo

By Kaye Wiggins

Groups applying for planning permission could be allowed to bypass Lambeth council in future, under a government scheme to strip councils of the role if they are deemed too slow at it.

The council has come fifth from the bottom of a national league table containing data about the speed of major planning decisions by more than 300 councils – putting it at risk of “special measures”.

It means that, if Lambeth’s figures do not show an improvement over the next few months, the government could allow groups applying for planning permission for major schemes such as house-building to go straight to the national Planning Inspectorate for what it describes as a “swifter decision”.

A statement published alongside the data, by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), said ministers hoped the prospect of losing part of their role would “provide a strong encouragement for the under-performing councils to raise their game and improve their planning service.”

Cllr Pete RobbinsBut councillor Pete Robbins (left), cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said he was confident about Lambeth’s planning services.

“Lambeth will not be going into special measures,” he said. “It’s disappointing that the government has made this table public before analysing the data for the most recent quarter which shows a significant improvement in our performance.

“This is a flawed ranking system that takes no account of the enormous time and effort that goes into working with developers on major projects to solve problems, rather than refusing planning permission which would tick the DCLG box but does nothing to boost local jobs and homes.”


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