Following revelations in May that Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council were the worst performing Local Planning Authority in England over a 24 month period, the local Member of Parliament, Dr Luke Evans, has welcomed subsequent improvements.
The improved performance comes after the issue was raised with the Prime Minister and the Housing Minister, with the Government giving a sharp warning to Liberal Democrat council leadership to make improvements or risk being sanctioned.
National planning performance statistics showed that in the 24 months up to the end of December 2022 the local Borough Council’s average performance was 46.5%, despite the average for other councils in the East Midlands being over 84%.
Research by the independent House of Commons Library has stated, “On the speed of decision-making for non-major planning applications within statutory time limits (or an extended period agreed with the applicant), Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council had the lowest performance among all  LPAs in the 24 months to end of December 2022.”
On October 4th 2023 the Minister for Housing and Planning, Rachel Maclean MP, wrote to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council to say that work between April to June 2023 had seen performance rise to an average of 90%, which is above the expected threshold of 70%.
The Minister’s letter cautioned “I remain concerned that on a rolling two-year basis, performance remains below the 70% threshold at 55%,” and advised that unless the current performance improvements continue the Council would be at risk of designation.
The improvements have come after the local MP and residents have repeatedly challenged the Lib Dem leadership of the council for failing to produce an up-to-date Local Plan. Earlier this year Dr Luke Evans raised these concerns with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Prime Minister, in a response to Dr Evans, said Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council “is failing in its duty” to protect the community from added pressure on local infrastructure, such as roads, schools and GP services, by not having an adopted up-to-date Local Plan.
Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, said “I’m pleased there has been an improvement in performance in our local planning department following my repeated raising of concerns about the Liberal Democrat leadership.
“Thanks to the hard work of the civil servants in the planning department at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, and under the watchful eye of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, we have started to see significant improvements in dealing with planning applications.
“If this continues it greatly reduces the chance of part of the decision making process being taken out of the hands of local people.
“I’ve written to the civil servants in the planning department to congratulate them. They have worked so hard to turn this around and deserve credit for doing so.
“I hope as the council planning department continues to improve, so do the chances of getting an adopted up-to-date Local Plan to protect our community from inappropriate housebuilding.”
Please find attached a copy of the letter from the Planning Minister to Bill Cullen, Chief Executive of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.