‘Great improvement’ on planning figures

Babergh District Council “is improving” after failing to hit any of its targets for determining planning applications on time.

A report, presented to the development committee yesterday, shows that just 44 per cent of major applications were decided upon within the Government’s 13-week target.

Planning authorities are required to determine 60 per cent of major applications – involving 200 or more homes – in that period.

Babergh’s development committee only determined 54 per cent of minor applications within the eight-week target – 11 per cent below the requirement – and just 67 per cent of other applications within eight weeks – 13 per cent below the target.

Statistics from the three months to June 30 this year show marked improvements in the performance indicators, with nearly 70 per cent of major applications, 60 per cent of minor applications and 85 per cent of other applications determined on time.

Peter Beer, development committee chairman, said: “We are not where we would like to be but it is a great improvement.

“We are making progress and officers are very committed to getting these within the targets, but there are outside pressures which complicate the issue.”

Mr Beer added that additional resources and extra meetings had been provided to improve performance.

“Reaching the Government’s targets is our underlying determination,” he said.

The report also shows that the council received £412,327 in planning fees last year, nearly £80,000 more than the previous year and £33,000 more than was predicted. It has received £77,924 to date in 2013/14.

The council received £578,616 in New Homes Bonuses – money paid to Babergh for each property built which is equal to the council tax band for the property.

It also negotiated £862,118 in section 106 agreements – cash paid by developers to offset the impact of major projects.