Blaby District Council released from 'special measures'

Out-Law News | 13 Oct 2014 | 4:36 pm | 1 min. read

A Leicestershire council which was the first local authority to be designated as underperforming by the UK government under a policy introduced last year, has been released from 'special measures' that allowed major planning applications to be submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate.

In November 2013, Blaby District Council became the first local planning authority to be designated as underperforming, after being found to have decided only 15.2% of its major applications within the prescribed 13 weeks over a two year assessment period. Under the government's policy, local planning authorities can be designated as underperforming if they determine 40% or fewer of the major planning applications that come before them within the prescribed period.

According to a Council statement, the Council has now been released from special measures, after making "huge improvements in its planning services", with 62% of major planning applications in the two years to June 2014 being determined within the prescribed period. "Using this simple measure, Blaby is now the most improved planning service in the country and one of the highest performing in Leicestershire," the statement said.

During the time that the Council was subject to 'special measures',  only one application was made to the Planning Inspectorate for determination: an unsuccessful application from developer Gladman Homes for up to 220 new homes and a school drop off and pick up zone on a 17.4 hectare site in Blaby.

The Council's portfolio holder for planning, economic development and housing strategy, Tony Greenwood, said in a statement: "When we were put in special measures we were at pains to stress that we prefer to work proactively with developers to ensure a high quality development rather than focus purely on an arbitrary government timescale."

"The Council has stuck to its principals and continues to prioritise customer service and good development over speed," said Greenwood. "It's now even clearer our approach is right; during the year of designation only one developer from approximately 50 major planning applications has chosen to apply directly to Inspectorate rather than work with the Council."

"The improvements in planning application performance combined with our up-to-date Core Strategy, an improved urban extension of 4,250 homes and our excellent customer relationships reinforce that Blaby is an excellent planning authority," he said.