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Column 690appellant, the authority and my Department, but it is understandable when many authorities decide fewer than half their applications in the eight-week period. As my hon. Friend will know, although Croydon has speeded up its decision-taking process, it is still dealing with only about 40 per cent. of its applications within eight weeks.
I do not doubt that, were Croydon to get near the national target, which is to deal with 80 per cent. of applications within eight weeks, it would find a dramatic reduction in the number of duplicate applications. The remedy is to be found in the hands of the authorities.
My hon. Friend is concerned also about costs. A review of regulations has just been approved, and fees will rise by about 15 per cent. from 14 March. There will be a further review this year and, given that there has been no comprehensive review of the fees scheme since 1986, it will give us the opportunity to look at the matter in greater depth, including consideration of my hon. Friend's views. I hope that I have been able to put my hon. Friend's concerns in perspective. I hope that he will take comfort from the increased emphasis on local plan making, and I hope that his council will take full advantage of the new opportunities, especially on the issue of density, which is of such great concern to my hon. Friends who represent outer London constituencies.
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at six minutes past Three o'clock.
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