LONDON-New statutory guidelines will encourage local councils to give priority to commercial planning applications, but the official deadline for considering major commercial applications has been relaxed. Planning minister Lord Falconer has said that councils will no longer be able to fill their agendas with basic planning applications just to meet bureaucratic targets.

But in return they have been given more realistic targets to meet. Until now, councils have been required to determine 80% of all applications in eight weeks. The new targets are 60% of all major commercial and industrial development to be considered in 13 weeks; 65% of all minor commercial and industrial development to be considered in eight weeks and 80% of all other applications 80 per cent in 8 weeks,

Lord Falconer said: ‘For too long, too many planning applications have been dealt with too slowly. Better handling of planning applications is a key responsibility for local planning departments.’ And he warned that he would take action against councils which failed to meet the new deadlines. ‘If they do not deliver what is expected of them, we have intervention powers at our disposal,’ he said.

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