Stockport Council is hoping to speed up some planning decisions. Credit: Stockport Council

Stockport nods through planning changes to speed up process

In a bid to ease the application backlog, councillors have voted to delegate more decision-making powers to officers.

Under the changes, approved at a full meeting of Stockport Council, all decisions on household applications will be given to officers to determine, apart from applications made by councillors, senior officers, or council staff involved in the planning process.

A change to the number of objection letters received to require an application to be dealt with by committee has also increased from four to six.

Call-ins will now require a minimum of two councillors, rather than one, alongside a clear planning reason as to why an application should be called-in.

The move has been made in light of government targets for how long it takes to determine planning applications. These two-year rolling targets are in place to ensure:

  • 60% of all major applications determined within 13 weeks
  • 80% of all other applications determined within eight weeks

According to the report presented to full council, the changes were mooted due to the pressures facing Stockport’s planning service.

Two years ago group leaders and planning leads decided to discuss the situation and these possible changes to help alleviate these pressures came about as a result of those meetings.

Stockport has also been given £65,000 by the government to help tackle the backlog, being one of 180 authorities to have received such funding.

The report heads off concerns that the changes will take control away from councillors, suggesting just the “most straightforward” applications will be dealt with to resolve them in a timely fashion.

Planning fees on non-major planning applications are refunded when a council fails to decide on an application within four months, unless an agreed extension of time is in place.

According to the report, Stockport hopes the changes will mean the council does not have to return application fees if applications have to go to committee.

It is hoped the changes will simplify procedure, reduce costs, improve performance in the department, and give councillors time to focus on more complex or controversial applications.

The changes were voted for unanimously and agreed within minutes of being presented to the meeting of the full council last week.

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Good for Stockport. Hopefully, other NW Councils will consider something similar. Indeed, my only criticism would be that they might have delegated even more matters to their professional officers – as recommended in the CMAs housing market study.

By Depressed Latic

More power placed in the hands of
unaccountable and unelected public employees, a bad idea particularly in light of the upcoming public consultation and rewrite the local development plan and the SHLAA. If you care about the quality rather than just the quantity of planning decision have your say during the consultation.


Can somebody send the same memo to Cheshire East?

By Anonymous

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