Former banker John Saunders will head fast-track planning body for major projects

John Saunders has been named chief executive of the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that the former banker would head up the new body, which aims to speed up the planning process.

Under the IPC, eight former planning systems are being replaced by a single process. The government claims it could cut the time taken to make planning decisions from up to seven years to under a year.

Saunders spent 20 years working in the banking industry and has recently held posts including chief executive of the Security Industry Authority.

IPC chair Michael Pitt said: “John brings strong leadership, business acumen and a thorough understanding of working in challenging and politically sensitive arenas under close public scrutiny. His appointment strengthens the IPC team, ensuring that we are equipped to deliver to the highest standards from day one.”

The Conservative Party has said it will abolish the IPC if it wins the next election.