Barrow Borough Council's executive committee has given its take on national reforms to streamline and modernise the planning process.

The committee met on Wednesday to hear how the new system will work, with the aim being to make it easier to build in the town.

The council heard how the reforms will help builders and developers in Barrow and the new way of working will also see that more land is made available for development where it is needed.

Helen Hewson, Barrow’s development services manger for planning, was upbeat about the reforms. She said: “There will be a reduced complexity in the system and local plans will be more visual and map-based and easier to understand.

Councillor Lee Roberts, who chaired the meeting, heard how the new system for planning will have three tiers for developers to consider when making an application to build, which will include a new timeframe to adopt a local plan. This will move from an average of six to seven years and drop right down to a 30-day turnaround for a decision to be made. Areas of historical interest or conservation areas will take longer.

Cllr Roberts was quick to tell committee that this is the national white paper for planning reform for the whole country. He said: “Barrow is unique in many ways so therefore one size does not fit all.”

Councillor Hazel Edwards, who represents Hawcoat, was concerned for the ability of the council to deal with appeals to applications under the new rules. She said: “Is there a provision in the new document for appeals?"

Cllr Edwards was advised that if the council lost an appeal over developments in the future, then the applicant would have his or her fees fully refunded. Cllr Roberts said: “We may not agree with it, but a person's right to appeal would still be there."

Other conditions adopted included: the ability to identify land under a growth category for development and to have it allowed automatically, and have any revenue collected to be spent locally.

The Planning for the Future White Paper Consultation was passed without objection.