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Planning Team performance is on the up

Published Friday, 09 June 2023

The council’s planning department is now out-performing government targets after an influx of new staff arrived to work with the existing team.

Following several struggles in late 2020 until September 2022 - resulting from the pandemic and a higher than usual rate of staff turnover - planning performance has significantly increased over the past six months as new members of staff have joined existing planning officers to improve the customer focus and response. 

This means residents have seen a vast improvement in the responses and updates to their queries, while the speed of processing applications has also increased significantly since last summer.

The council has been performing consistently above the government’s performance thresholds for both minor and major applications from October 2022. As well as this, 80 per cent of all minor applications have been turned around within target times since January this year - well above the government’s target of 70 per cent.  

Stuart Bray, Council Leader, said:

Regrettably, some of the information currently being circulated in the press and on social media isn’t correct. We’re keen to allay people’s concerns about what this actually means, and to that end, I recently wrote to Dr Luke Evans MP clarifying the facts and seeking his help in ensuring these facts are understood and communicated accurately in future.

In summary, the letter states:

  • The issue with performance was from late 2020 until September 2022. The council has always been transparent about the issues it experienced within the planning service and a cross-party scrutiny review of the service and issues, including performance levels, was publicly reported in November 2022 
  • Performance for minor applications for the last two quarters of 22/23 was above the required government target of 70% and is currently over 80%
  • The threat of designation is not for the whole planning service; it is for minor applications only. The council does not face ‘losing control of planning’, as has been reported, but should it be designated, PINS could process minor applications only, and then only if the applicant chooses that route for their application, it would not be compulsory
  • Council officers contacted government officials when the letter was received on 12 April and met with them on 26 April. Officers have also invited officials from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to visit the council and specifically meet with the planning team. This invite has been accepted

The letter to the MP can be read in full.