Refurbishment Finance News:- Planning appeals are being assigned to an inspector within four weeks compared with an average of 13 weeks last year, but house builders have warned that local councils are still overloaded.

The planning inspectorate said the reduction was due to 80 new inspectors being hired in November 2018. It added it was continuing to recruit with more senior inspectors anticipated to be in post by the autumn.

Hank Zarihs Associates | Planning appeal assignments speeded up to four weeks

A new decision making model where planning officers would examine and make recommendations on less complex appeals, had been adopted.

House builders welcomed the news but warned more was still needed to be done.

The Home Builders Federation planning director, Andrew Whitaker, said: “It’s important that the planning system has a robust appeal system that is timely and efficient. It is therefore good news that improvements are taking effect.”

Local councils need to recruit more planners

The Federation of Master Builders agreed but said local councils needed more planning officers to deal with applications more efficiently to avoid relying on appeals.

FMB chief executive, Brian Berry, said: “Planning fees were increased in January 2018 but our members haven’t noticed any improvement in the speed of communications or decision-making from their local offices.

“The rate at which the construction industry is delivering new homes could be significantly improved if this funding was channelled into recruiting more planning officers so that the time taken to respond to emails and calls from developers was reduced. ”

Berry said the housing ministry should accept the public accounts committee’s findings in its Planning and the broken housing market report. The document calls for a set of actions by October 2019, including improving local planning departments, on how to achieve the 300,000 new homes target.

Refurbishment Finance by HZA

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said a speedier planning process would help SME house builders who were often operating on tight margins. This would also enable commercial development finance lenders to grant development and refurbishment finance more speedily.

The inspectorate said it was seeing cases being determined on average within 22 weeks if older casework including kiosk appeals was excluded. It said it was confident it could hit its 18-week target for determining appeals via written representations by December 2019. For other casework it was expecting an uplift in performance of about 30 per cent, compared to November 2018, from April 2020 onwards.

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