Damning figures on Britain’s gridlocked planning system have emerged today, with councils failing to process a quarter of a million applications on time since 2010.
Following Freedom of Information requests, The Times has revealed that not a single council had managed to process every application on time, while one in 16 failed to process half on time.
The fresh figures follow major cuts to local government that have fallen hard on planning departments. Between 2010-2015, councils have lost 10% of their planning workforce, equivalent to 1,200 jobs, the Times highlighted.
Analysis suggests this could have prompted a change in policy on planning permissions with smaller applications held back, while overstretched staff focussed on major developments.
A third of major applications, which include large housing and commercial developments, have suffered delays over the past five years with some councils only managing to process one in three applications.
However delays to minor applications were up 16% between 2010- 2015.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: ‘Britain’s housing crisis is complex and it’s a fallacy to say planning is the barrier to building - councils and their communities are approving nine in ten planning applications while hundreds of thousands of homes that have been given planning permission are yet to be built.
'However local government wants to do more and developers and councils have repeatedly called on government to resolve the underfunding of council planning teams. Government has put a limit on the planning fees councils can charge which impacts on services and has meant council tax payers have had to subsidise planning applications by around £450m over the last three years.
'Developers are increasingly willing to pay more, and planning fees need to be set locally by councils so that they cover costs.’