Not only is the Planning Inspectorate taking on the extra responsibility on s.106 agreements; at a time when it is under pressure from the surge of local plans coming to Inquiry, two further assignments are proposed. Firstly, where Local Planning Authorities (LPA’s) have a track record of consistently poor performance in the speed or quality of their decisions the Inspectorate will step in to determine planning applications. Secondly, new categories of commercial and business development will be brought into the nationally significant infrastructure regime run by the Inspectorate.
By any measure, in constantly changing planning circumstances, the Inspectorate does a good and timely job, but it will require additional staff resources to carry out the extra functions adequately. Clearly both measures are transferring power from localities to the centre, in contravention of the much-publicised localism agenda, but many observers will conclude that localism has already been discarded in all but name.