The councils that have determined the fewest applications within government time limits

Ten local authorities have fallen below the government's 'special measures' threshold for the proportion of application decisions made within the statutory timescales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Under the special measures programme, councils can have planning decisions taken out of their hands and dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate if they fall below specified thresholds for the speed and quality of their decision making.

Authorities that decide fewer than 60 per cent of major applications within the statutory deadline of 13 weeks or 70 per cent of non-major applications within the eight-week deadline face the sanction.

In December last year, the government announced the programme would continue until 2020. However, no council has been penalised under the initiative since January 2015, despite many falling under the sanction thresholds.

Last month, the government updated its figures showing how many major and non-major decisions that each English local planning authority determined within the prescribed timescales in the two years up to December 2018.

The data shows that Southampton, Craven, Worcestershire and Herefordshire Councils have all fallen below the 70 per cent threshold for non-major decisions. Of a total of 1,840 decisions, Southampton Council made 59 per cent of them within the eight week deadline.

Craven Council was also among four authorities to fall below the 70 per cent threshold for deciding 'district matters' major applications within 13 weeks. Wirral Council emerged as the worst-performing authority in this category, deciding less than half of applications within the deadline.