Planning minister Brandon Lewis has announced proposals to pilot competition in the processing of planning applications.
This move was signalled during the first session of the report stage of the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill.
The proposal will test whether planning could follow the lead from Building Control with “alternative providers” handling planning applications.
Lewis said the proposals would give the Secretary of State the power to introduce pilot schemes “for competition in the processing of applications for planning permission”.
Lewis stressed that the scheme would be confined to processing applications and would not mean competition in determining planning applications. He told MPs: “Let me be clear: this is about competition for the processing of applications, not their determination.
“The democratic determination of planning applications by local planning authorities is a fundamental pillar of the planning system, and that will remain the case during any pilot schemes that the Secretary of State brings forward.”
Lewis insisted: “These new clauses will allow us to test, in specific areas of the country and for a limited period, the benefits of allowing planning applicants to choose who processes their planning application”.
He added: “That will lead to a more efficient and effective planning system, better able to secure the development of the homes and other facilities that our communities need and want.
“Introducing choice for the applicant enables them to shop around for the services that best meet their needs. It will enable innovation in service provision, bringing new resources into the planning system and driving down costs while improving performance.”