Sir Michael Pitt, currently chair of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, will become the next chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate when Katrine Sporle, the present incumbent, retires at the end of March.
Decentralisation minister Greg Clark has told Parliament that the current cadre of Commissioners appointed to examine major infrastructure applications will continue to do that job in the yet to be established Major Infrastructure Planning Unit inside the Inspectorate until September 2014.
They will form part of a single group of professionals that will work across the whole range of applications and appeal casework that the Planning Inspectorate handles, the minister explained.
Clark said: "By retaining the skills of Commissioners, I can confirm that major infrastructure applications in progress at the point of transition will be handled by the same individuals and that they will not be subject to any delay.
"Moreover, applicants should be reassured that ministerial decisions will be made in line with the existing statutory timescale of twelve months."
The new major infrastructure planning regime is still in its early stages with the first applications under the Planning Act 2008 having only recently been accepted for examination.
Clark said the Government’s commitment to create a Major Infrastructure Planning Unit, with all decisions taken by Ministers, would restore democratic accountability to the system whilst retaining the existing approach, expertise and statutory timetables of the current major infrastructure planning system.
The regime will be:
The minister added his thanks to Katrine Sporle who was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours list.