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Weekly planning news

Planning news - 20 June 2024

Planning Portal weekly news 20 June

Planning applications fall in the first quarter of 2024

According to stats recently published by government1, England saw a significant decline in planning applications and decisions compared to the previous year. The government reported 85,800 applications, an 11% decrease from 2023, with decisions down by 9%. 

Householder developments were notably affected - out of 39,800 decisions, 88% were approved, and 92% met the agreed timelines. Householder applications make up the largest proportion of decisions, at 52%, despite a 4% annual drop. 

This decline may be due to the increased use of permitted development rights, allowing homeowners to extend without formal planning applications. Larger Home Extensions made up 56% of all such applications from January to March. 

However, the stats did reveal decision-making getting more efficient, with an improvement in timely processing, especially for minor applications which increased by 4%. 

For more in-depth information on monthly planning application figures, you can subscribe to our Market Insight Report.2  

Council invest £1m to speed up planning system

Wiltshire Council is investing £1 million to speed up its planning process, the BBC has reported3. This funding will be used to hire more planning officers, to make faster decisions. 

The planning service at Wiltshire Council includes teams that manage the local plan and handle planning applications. During the Covid-19 pandemic, delays caused a significant backlog of applications for many local authorities. Wiltshire Council struggled to recruit enough staff to fill vacancies and at one point, according to the BBC, had nearly 2,000 open planning applications. 

On average Wiltshire process over 6,000 planning applications each year. As reported by the BBC, Councillor Nick Botterill, cabinet member for development management and strategic planning, praised the hard work of the planning staff in providing a high standard of customer service. However, he acknowledged the need for changes to improve efficiency. He stated that the additional £1 million investment would help ensure faster processing of applications and deliver the best possible service to customers. 

Planning Portal and TerraQuest partner with many councils looking to find efficient solutions to their planning backlogs – offering assistance which goes beyond recruiting additional officers. TerraQuest have recently unveiled their Planning Engagement Programme, offering comprehensive, end-to-end planning application support from qualified planners and industry experts to support local authorities in managing their workloads and clearing backlog. 

TerraQuest offer a range of different solutions which can be tailored to meet each authority’s needs, offering contextual, timely support. Find out more by contacting 

Reading council lose the chance to appeal controversial planning decision

Earlier this week, the latest development in an ongoing saga surrounding a controversial approval in Reading– the legal challenge Reading Borough Council intended to launch against the approval will now not go ahead, due to their failing to serve associated parties with the correct application notifications on time. 

An application to redevelop Reading Station Park, which proposed to deliver ‘up to 1,000 homes and up to 2,000 square meters of retail and commercial space’, was approved by secretary of state Lee Rowley in March, after being called into consideration following an initial failure to determine by the council. 

The authority’s planning committee and officers later agreed that the application should be denied over its ‘heritage impacts’. 

Rowley’s approval came against the recommendation of a planning inspector, stating: 

‘the great weight to be attached to conservation of the identified heritage assets in accordance with [the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)], and the particular importance of the Grade II* listed Town Council Chamber, leads me to conclude that the public benefits would not outweigh the harm to the heritage assets in this case" 

The council announced it would seek to appeal, but failing to meet procedural requirements now means they won’t be able to challenge the decision.  

They have however said they ‘stand by’ their initial reaction to the application, and that subsequent applications pertaining to this proposal will be considered on their ‘merit’. 

You can read more about the dispute on the Local Government Lawyer.4 

Wind farm approved in Wales

The farm, which will hold up to seven turbines, was approved by housing secretary Julie James, The Planner has reported. The site is just east of Trebanog, on the outskirts of the Rhondda Valley. 

The approval was in line with the recommendations of inspectors at Planning & Environment Decision Wales.  

Initial concerns were raised by the council over negative visual impacts associated with the project, but The Environmental Statement (ES) and the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments (LVIA) indicated that the development would not significantly detract from the character of Mynydd y Glyn. 

The wind farm will provide a net benefit for biodiversity, in line with local policies and is expected to have a minimal footprint, with appropriate conditions imposed to mitigate any potential adverse effects. 

You can read more about the project by visiting The Planner.5 


Our planning news is published in association with ThePlanner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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    Planning news - 20 June 2024

      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.

      The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.