English Partnerships is assembling a team of expert planners to help speed up applications in the South-east's four growth areas.
The Advisory Panel on Large Applications (APLA), a new arm of EP's National Consultancy Team, will offer expert advice in major planning applications at the request of local planners.

Trevor Beattie, EP's corporate strategy director, said the team, to be staffed by five people, would avoid political disputes and would only advise on applications, rather than processing them.

He said: "The team is being run on behalf of ministers and will provide solutions to planning problems like environmental impact assessments or compulsory purchase issues. In some areas they may propose a specialist design code."

Beattie added that APLA would be a way of addressing the Egan agenda, as it would be an elite job for the country's top planners.

He said: "We want to recruit bright young planners who have done one or two jobs. They'll be rushing all over the South-east."

The scheme is being funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as a two-year pilot. Beattie said EP would announce the head of APLA, described as "an individual of considerable experience from the private sector", within the month.

EP's National Consultancy Team consists of 20 top regeneration officials.