The Government-set target for local authorities of getting 80% of planning applications dealt with in eight weeks is to be eased for the worst performers.
Fifteen local planning authorities with the worst records for the speed with which they process-planning applications (they handled less than 50% in eight weeks) have been set new, less stringent targets to work towards.
The 15 authorities have now been told to process 65% of applications within eight weeks.
Planning Minister Nick Raynsford says he regards the target as achievable. It is not a relaxation but a first step towards reaching 80%.
He added: Planning must be seen as a positive force, acting to deliver policy at the local level, responding swiftly and effectively. Because it affects the economic viability of local people running local businesses it is important to offer a quality service to them when they put a planning application into a local planning authority.