Planning process faster in North than London, survey says
The fifth Annual Planning Survey by the British Property Federation and GL Hearn has found that planning authorities in the North of England make more and faster planning decisions than those in Greater London.
Researchers looked at major application decisions across 34 authorities in the North and found that 11 major planning application decisions were made for every 100,000 residents, compared to nine decisions for 100,000 residents in Greater London.
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Authorities in the North are also faster. Four of five planning authorities in the study to achieve determination times of less than 20 weeks were in the North. Wirral reached a decision in 14 weeks on average, the fastest in the country, with Wakefield second on 17 weeks and Bolton and Hull achieving 19 weeks apiece.
And by volume the North came top again. Seven out of the 10 planning authorities in this year’s study to determine more than 50 major applications were located within the North.
In the North East combined authority area, 273 major applications were determined with Durham leading the way on 72 followed by Northumberland on 55. West Yorkshire determined 261 major applications with nearly 40% of these in Leeds, with 102. This makes Leeds the busiest authority for major applications being determined across any region in this year’s study; Kirklees was also busy determining 60 applications.
Liverpool, with 81, dominated the major application decisions across the Liverpool city region, where there were 172 in total; while Sheffield, on 61, dominated the Sheffield city region’s 142.
Combining these figures with the findings for Greater Manchester, the North determined a total of 1,161 major applications this year, 50% more than Greater London.
Approval rates across the North stood at 92%, which is broadly in line with the rest of the UK. It was slightly easier to gain approval in Liverpool city region, 95% approval rate, than other Northern authorities. West Yorkshire and the North East had the lowest approval rates in the North, with both on 90%.
Alastair Crowdy, managing director of Capita Real Estate Advisory and GL Hearn, said: “The fact that the Northern Powerhouse is deciding more major applications per capita than London is a hugely promising sign for growth in the North – and one that shows that the development that drives growth is spread across the country.
“It is also encouraging to see that the region is topping the tables when it comes to making decisions quickly, with the four fastest LPAs in the country. We know that waiting times are a considerable source of frustration for applicants, so these authorities deserve recognition for their achievement.
“It is clear that in a time of economic uncertainty it is unlikely that we’ll see the planning system receive a huge investment boost; we all know that there are other, more pressing priorities for the Government and for local authorities. As a result, we all need to work together – planners, developers and central government – to deliver innovative solutions and policies that will help get Britain planning again.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “It is really encouraging to see the North live up to its ‘powerhouse’ moniker, and to be powering ahead with its development pipeline. The development industry has an important part to play in ensuring growth across the country, and it is good to see that there is lots of activity in the North West.
“That being said, average determination times are stagnating across the country, and the issue of under-resourcing continues to be very apparent. Government has made noises about addressing the issue but we have yet to see any policy announcements with teeth. If it wants to ensure that the development industry invests in our towns and cities, bring about growth and regeneration and deliver the homes we need, then local authorities need to be sufficiently resourced.”
The fifth annual planning survey has been published by the British Property Federation and GL Hearn. It combines data on major planning application decisions from 74 local planning authorities and survey data from 385 developers and local authority planning officers across the country.
Download report – GL Hearn BPF Annual Planning Survey 2016