Planning minister Keith Hill has stepped up the pressure on local planning authorities to process planning applications within the statutory deadlines.
The target is for all local planning authorities in England to handle 60 per cent of major applications in 13 weeks, and 65 per cent of minor applications and 80 per cent of smaller applications in eight weeks. But the latest figures show only one council in three is meeting these targets.
Hill said: 'Though performance has improved there is a still a long way to go if all authorities are to achieve the targets by 2006/2007.'
He announced a new advisory panel on large applications that will step in to assist councils facing large development proposals, which can often overwhelm the capacity of existing planning departments.