The authorities in most danger of losing planning powers because of poor appeal records

Six local planning authorities are over the 'special measures' threshold for the proportion of decisions that are overturned at appeal, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Dartmoor National Park Authority saw the highest percentage of major district-level decisions overturned. Image: Flickr / Neil Barnwell
Dartmoor National Park Authority saw the highest percentage of major district-level decisions overturned. Image: Flickr / Neil Barnwell

Under the ‘special measures’ regime, local planning authorities can be designated as poorly-performing if they fail to meet criteria for either speed or quality of decision-making, allowing developers to submit applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate.

Any authority that has more than ten per cent of either major or non-major applications overturned at appeal over a two-year period is at risk of designation.

The statistics for quality of decision-making were last published in July 2019, when seven planning authorities were at or above the special measures threshold for the quality of their decisions - five for major district-level planning decisions and two for major county matters decisions.

The MHCLG's latest planning statistics, published at the end of last month, reveal provisional data on English authorities' performance in terms of quality of decison-making over the two years from October 2016 to September 2018, including figures for six of the eight quarters over which councils are due to be assessed before the 2020 special measures designations.

The data shows that six authorities are now at or above the threshold - five for the quality of major district-level decisions and one for the quality of major county-level decisions.

No planning authorities exceeded the 10 per cent threshold in relation to non-major decisions.

Dartmoor National Park Authority saw just one major district-level decision overturned but, with a total of only seven such decisions over the two-year period, recorded the highest percentage of decisions reversed at appeal at 14.3 per cent.

Bromley Council, Castle Point Borough Council, Epsom and Ewell Council, and South Bucks Council (now part of Buckinghamshire Council) were all also at or above the 10 per cent threshold for quality of major district-level decisions (see table below).

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham was the only local authority to exceed the threshold for quality of major county-level decisions, after seeing one of four such decisions reversed at appeal.

In total, nine authorities saw at least one major county-level decision overturned at appeal during the two year assessment period (see table below).

No planning authorities came close to exceeding the ten per cent threshold for the percentage of non-major decisions overturned at appeal.

London boroughs accounted for 12 of the top 20 authorities with the highest percentage of non-major decisions overturned and eight of the top ten. Hillingdon Council tops the table at 3.9 per cent, closely followed by Bromley Council at 3.6 per cent.

Maldon District Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and Luton Borough Council represent the only non-London boroughs in the top ten for overturned non-major decisions.

In December 2018, the MHCLG said consideration of designation for quality of decision-making in the first quarter of 2020 would consider the period between April 2017 and March 2019.

So last month's figures cover six of the eight quarters that would form the final period for designation consideration.

At the same time, the ministry also published data for quality of decision-making covering the previous quarter - the two years up to June 2018 - which showed eight authorities in the danger zone.

Six authorities were over the threshold for major district-level planning decisions - the same five authorities as in the latest quarter's data plus the Peak District National Park Authority.

Meanwhile, two were over for major county decisions - Barking and Dagenham again plus the Isle of Wight, though the latter made only one decision over the two-year period.

In addition, no authorities were over the benchmark for non-major decisions.

Earlier this month, the same MHCLG data revealed that seven authorities are sitting below the special measures threshold for speed of decision-making.


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