Cheshire East Council has created a new planning support service for major schemes – to boost jobs and investment.
The new initiative, which is in its infancy, was put before Cabinet members today (November 10) to seek support for the development and expansion of the new Priority Planning Applications (PPA) service.
This premium ‘fast-track’ service will be for significant, major planning applications – from initial inquiry to submission for planning decision – and provide a ‘seamless service’, cutting through unnecessary delays.
The aim of this paid-for service will be to ensure major investment and job creation in Cheshire East does not suffer unnecessary delays.
The service will also generate a revenue stream for the Council to enable additional resources to be brought in to deal with the large number of major applications submitted to Cheshire East.
This new process does not necessarily mean that these applications will be permitted, as they will continue to be determined on their individual merits, in accordance with Council policy, by elected members of independent planning committees.
Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said: “This Council is once again showing its real commitment to acting innovatively to improve service delivery for the people of Cheshire East and develop our local economy.
“This new initiative will develop a new revenue stream for the Council but more importantly this is about improving the delivery of key planning decisions in what is one of the busiest planning authorities in the country.
“A PPA will allow resources to be provided and targeted to deal with the most economically-significant applications received by this authority – that would bring significant jobs, housing and infrastructure investment to the Borough.
“It will also give greater confidence to inward investors and businesses that Cheshire East can handle major planning applications in a proactive and efficient way.”
The criteria for eligible applications for PPA service support would be projects which:
● Create more than 200 jobs;
● Build more than 500 houses;
● Are Council disposal applications for major sites, or which unlock significant sites; and
● Release grant aid, in a small number of exceptional circumstances.
Caroline Simpson, the Council’s executive director of economic growth and prosperity, said in her report to Cabinet: “This proposal is part of an overall package of resource and operational improvements to the development management service, which seek to ensure that all applications are dealt with in a timely manner.
“This Council is committed to supporting economic growth and nurturing prosperous communities. The planning process plays a major role in supporting appropriate development and it is essential that the Council has a dynamic and proactive approach to planning which serves local residents and businesses.”
Developers will be charged an additional fee over and above the normal planning fee. It is expected that the costs of providing the PPA service, consisting of three experienced planning officers, would be covered by the revenue generated.