Major planning application approvals in Greater Manchester take 22 weeks

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24 November 2014

Major developments* take an average of five and a half months (22 weeks) to receive planning approval in the Greater Manchester region, according to GL Hearn and the British Property Federation’s Annual Planning Survey.

This average validation to determination time is faster than London, with the average approval time in the capital standing at 26 weeks – almost double the government target of 13 weeks. Manchester City Council was a standout authority in the region, with 76 major applications over the past year, and a 97% approval rate.

Manchester City was one of just five councils commended in the overall study for having higher than average application numbers but also faster than average decision times.

Overall approval rates in Greater Manchester stood at 92.9%, above London’s average of 85%. 100% of major developments in Stockport and Wigan over the past 12 months were approved.

Despite a positive picture for development in Greater Manchester, across the UK 62% of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) called for an overhaul of the planning system and 52% of developers feel planning is a major barrier to house building. The survey also revealed that there was a discrepancy between where LPAs and developers perceived the problems to be:

  • Developers listed planning (52%) and a shortage of land (43%) as the greatest obstacles to more building
  • Councils tend to name funding (43%) and demand (41%) as the principal barriers to more house-building

Commenting on the findings of the Annual Planning Survey, Mike Baker, GL Hearn Manchester’s Planning Director, said:

“Many Local Planning Authorities in the Greater Manchester region must be commended for their efforts to speed up the planning process, with some approving major developments quicker than the government target and others giving the green light to 100% of applications. Manchester City Council deserves special recognition as one of five outperforming local authorities identified in the study. Some aspects of the central government’s reforms have also clearly had a positive impact on the system.

However, the current system must be made shorter, clearer and more consistent in order to capitalise on the investment being made, particularly for new homes. There has arguably been too much focus on the planning system itself and not enough in the people and resources needed to run it. To achieve the step change required, significant investment is needed and the government needs to look at further ways private sector resources can be leveraged to better equip local authorities.”

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, commented:

“Manchester’s high approval rate is encouraging, and its commitment to delivering development is to be applauded.

“However, the fact that its average approval time is almost double that suggested by the government shows that the planning system still needs further reform. We suggest that the pre-application stage of the planning process is examined in more detail as developments often get stuck in this stage, causing delay. CIL also needs further consideration, as it is viewed negatively by both LPAs and developers.”

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Manchester’s high approval rate is encouraging, and its commitment to delivering development is to be applauded.
Liz Peace
Chief Executive

British Property Federation

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