HBF survey shows councils take an average of 248 days to approve applications, three times longer than government targets

Planners are missing government targets by taking nearly three times too long to grant consent for housing schemes, according to a survey this week.

The survey, published by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) in the run up to this week’s widely anticipated launch of the government’s housing Planning Policy Statement 3, shows that councils take an average of 248 days to approve applications.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s target for major applications states that 60% should be processed within 91 days.

The survey also highlights logjams at every stage of the planning process, a problem identified as by David Pretty, outgoing Barratt chief executive officer, in his interview with Building earlier this month.

The figures show that it takes councils an average 17 days just to register applications, compared with the statutory target of 24 hours. At the other end of the process, the survey shows that there is an average delay of 98 days, more than three months, between planning committees granting permission for schemes and the issuing of decision notices. The intervening period is often accounted for by negotiations over section 106 agreements.

Stewart Baseley, HBF executive chairman, said: “The government will this week be announcing a new PPS for housing. We hope and believe this will give welcome emphasis to the need to ensure sufficient land comes forward to meet our housing requirements. HBF’s figures show, however, that there are some key areas of the planning process that need to be targeted to make it more efficient and effective.”

Planning minister Yvette Cooper is expected to outline her thinking on PPS3, which provides the template for how councils handle housing development, at a seminar in London later today.