Ministers have announced proposals for a planning ‘guarantee’ designed to ensure no application for planning permission in England takes longer than 12 months to be determined, including any appeal. Another nail in the coffin of genuine Localism, when it comes to planning matters?
I can see a form of the ‘black economy’ in reverse emerging in some planning departments. Why? The current system dictates that, in order to cash the cheque that comes with any planning app, it has to be validated and put in to the system, so that the determination clock starts ticking.
Therefore, in order to avoid stating that clock, the planners just need to avoid validating the application, but continue to work on it off of the books, so that they can be one step ahead when the application does eventually come back – that’s the ‘black economy’ bit. The downside of this strategy is of course the lack of a fee to support the work now being carried ‘for free’, hence the ‘in reverse’ bit.
I doubt that many councils will want to adopt this sort of subterfuge, if only because of the up-front cost. However, in those areas where developers have a reputation for exploiting the system to make a fast buck, the local planning authority may have no choice, given the latest piece of planning system vandalism being proposed by DCLG.