BPF: Manchester beats London on planning approval speed

Major planning applications take an average of 22 weeks to receive approval in the Greater Manchester region, according to GL Hearn and the British Property Federation's annual planning survey.

The survey defined major planning applications as 10 or more dwellings on 1.2-acres of land for residential schemes, and 10,000 sq ft on 2.5-acres for commercial developments.

The 22 week validation to determination time is faster than London, with the average approval time in the capital standing at 26 weeks, almost double the government target of 13 weeks.

The survey pointed to Manchester City Council as a standout authority in the region, with 76 major applications over the past year, and a 97% approval rate. Manchester City was one of just five councils commended in the overall study for having higher than average application numbers but also faster than average decision times.

Overall approval rates in Greater Manchester stood at 92.9%, above London's average of 85%. All major developments in Stockport and Wigan over the past 12 months were approved.

The survey showed that across the UK 62% of local planning authorities wanted an overhaul of the planning system and 52% of developers felt planning is a major barrier to house building.

Mike Baker, planning director of GL Hearn in Manchester, said: "The current system must be made shorter, clearer and more consistent in order to capitalise on the investment being made, particularly for new homes. There has arguably been too much focus on the planning system itself and not enough in the people and resources needed to run it. To achieve the step change required, significant investment is needed and the government needs to look at further ways private sector resources can be leveraged to better equip local authorities."

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Manchester helped no doubt by the fact that the Council won’t register any applications if they don’t like them.

By Mr Planner

Or Mr Planner are they actually doing what a good planner should do and rather than just pontificating through an entire process & then saying ‘no’ at the final hurdle, being upfront that they don’t think what is being proposed is acceptable? After 20 years experience of both types of planning authority, I’d rather work with a planning authority that has got the cojones to say what they think upfront any day.

By MancLass

MCC approve applications that meet their corporate objectives, only if submitted in detail (which helpfully increases planning fee income especially if the scheme is amended later), and involve the architects and other advisers that the Council prefer.

This doesn’t mean that the Council is an exemplar planning authority and that they are forthright- they push their agenda and assume that the industry will follow.

By Closed Shop

Please can someone apply a little pressure to Cheshire East to try to compete with these – the average must be closer to 22 months!

By Observer

The fact the Council from the start pressure developers to use their “preferred team” means they mostly get exactly what they want from the start… However it’s a travesty that works only seems to go to their mates at the expense of other hard working and good firms!!

By Manc Developer

MancLass "Or Mr Planner are they actually doing what a good planner should do and rather than just pontificating through an entire process & then saying ‘no’ at the final hurdle" Or alternatively, pontificating through the entire process and then saying at the final hurdle "we don’t like the scheme and want you to withdraw the application" so they can avoid the option of appeal on refusal, then entice the developer into making a fresh application which they can pontificate on further without affecting their performance figures. Have to agree with the other comments that there seems to be a favoured group, outside of which schemes are automatically deemed of inferior design.

By Wintermute