David Pretty and Joanna Killian to lead review into improving the way applications are processed

A government review of the planning system designed to speed up the time it takes to process applications has been launched.

Jointly led by David Pretty, former Barratt chief executive, and Joanna Killian, Essex County Council chief executive, the review will focus not on the structure of the planning system, but on improving the way it functions.

Pretty and Killian will report in to housing minister Caroline Flint and construction minister Baroness Vadera in the autumn. The review, entitled “Planning Applications: a faster and more responsive system,” follows a review in 2006 of the planning system by economist Kate Barker, and a review of housing delivery by John Callcutt, former Crest Nicholson chief executive, and comes as legislation to reform the planning system is before parliament.

Possible areas the review will cover include:

• Unnecessary duplication of paperwork in the application process.

• Delays occurring even after permission has been granted because pre-build conditions like construction schedules and legal steps are not being resolved quickly.

• Councils making better use of technology like the internet to notify people about planning applications, in addition to more traditional ways of telling the public such as in libraries.

Stewart Baseley, Home Builders Federation chief executive, said: “This review is important. The acid test will be whether it can effectively tackle the over-long planning process, unnecessary red tape and deliver land at a faster rate.”

However, others questioned the sense of another review of the system so quickly after other inquiries in to planning. Catherine Davey, planning and environment partner at Stevens & Bolton, said: “I find it difficult to muster enthusiasm for yet another review of how we might speed the planning process.

"I have lost count of the attempts that this government has made to speed the planning system and the number of consultations that there have been since 1997. We are more encumbered by legislation than we were then.”