Major planning applications are dealt with more speedily in St Helens than most parts of the country – according to new government figures.
Data released by the Department of Communities and Local Government reveals that the borough was placed 30th out of 335 local authorities for the period between October 2012 and September 2014. The performance monitoring survey gauges the speed and efficiency with which large scale applications are handled by council planning departments.
The figures also confirm that turnaround times in St Helens are the quickest of any authority in the Liverpool City Region – well ahead of second placed Knowsley in 140th place.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing, Planning and Community Safety, Councillor Richard McCauley said: “We are one of the few authorities in the country to provide free pre-application advice to developers working on major, complex projects.
“This, coupled with our policy of engaging with developers early on in the application process – and building a good working relationship, has helped to put us in the top nine per cent of authorities nationally when it comes to speeding up new development.”
One recent project that cleared planning hurdles with minimum fuss included the relocation and development of the new Mill Green School – on land where the old Parr High School stood – in just seven and half weeks. This was five and a half weeks less than the government guidelines.
Councillor McCauley added: “While we are pleased with the latest DCLG figures, we will be striving to improve further – and looking at every opportunity to boost development and inward investment for the borough.”