Fringe Box



GBC Will Not Be Designated for Its Poor Planning Performance But Minister Will ‘Closely Monitor’

Published on: 4 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 10 Oct, 2023

GBC’s planning application performance was bottom of a national league table in 2022.

By Martin Giles

Guildford Borough Council’s planning department will not be designated by the Minister for Housing & Planning because of its improved performance, CEO Tom Horwood has been informed.

If it was designated, the government could put in place special measures allowing applicants to apply directly to the Planning Directorate, cutting out the GBC planning department.

See: GBC Planning Could Be Designated for Special Measures Due to Poor Performance

Rachael Maclean MP

In a letter received today, the minister Rachael Maclean MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, says she “recognised the improvement in time taken to determine planning applications, which is now above the government’s target in the quarter and that designation would undermine our progress. DLUHC will continue to monitor performance”.

Giving the news to councillors, CEO Horwood said: “It is pleasing to see that the hard work to improve speed in our Planning Service has been recognised, and the team will continue to focus on improvement.”

Tom Horwood

The minister said she attached “great importance to a strongly performing planning system. It is crucial for delivering our commitment to increase housing supply and delivering wider prosperity”.

The Secretary of State had written to GBC in April expressing concern at the speed of decision-making for non-major development planning applications and advised that he expected the performance to exceed thresholds by June 2023 or he would use his powers to designate the authority later this year.

The minister’s letter to GBC’s CEO.

But a review by the minister of actions taken by GBC confirmed performance had risen to 82 per cent for the most recent quarter, April to June 2023, which was above the required threshold.

But the minister added a warning: “I remain concerned that on a rolling two-year basis, performance remains below the 70% threshold at 55%.

“Due to the improvement over recent quarters I am minded not to designate your authority for poor performance at this time. I recognise that to do so may undermine the work your authority has already commenced and I wish to support your performance improvement.

“However, I will continue to closely monitor the authority’s performance. Should the authority fail to further improve its performance in determining non-major applications to a level above the required average threshold, I will not hesitate to designate your authority for poor performance at a point in the future.”

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