Current planning system at Hertsmere Borough Council could ‘lead to a poor reputation’

PUBLISHED: 08:25 17 January 2020

Hertsmere Borough Council commissioned the review carried out by the East of England Local Government Association. Picture: Dmitriy Shironosov.

Hertsmere Borough Council commissioned the review carried out by the East of England Local Government Association. Picture: Dmitriy Shironosov.

Archant

Hertsmere Borough Council has found it has a backlog of applications while undertaking a review of its planning system.

The report - commissioned by the council - found that "aspects of the current [decision] arrangements have the potential to waste resources" and "provide a less than favourable public perception and lead to a poor reputation".

Published for a meeting on Wednesday, January 8, the review also seeks to highlight that putting planning at the heart of the council will "require political commitment and adequate resources".

READ MORE: Addressing 'backlog' of planning applications in Hertsmere could cost £90,000

To deal with its planning backlog, £90,000 was identified in November to fund a task force to deal with outstanding applications.

It was found then that the council's planning department had 122 applications for more than 56 days, and 378 applications and pre-applications which have yet to be determined - with the 11 development management officers dealing with up to 61 cases each.

Despite, minor and householder applications generally needing to be dealt with in 56 days and major applications in 91 days.

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The Personnel Committee in December also looked at increasing team numbers devoted to the Local Plan.

This would include the extension of creation of new posts and the extension of contracts, which would mean spending £76,630 more per year if approved by the executive.

Sajida Bijle, interim managing director, said: "We invited the East of England Local Government Association to undertake an external review of our planning department last year as part of our ongoing aspiration to deliver an excellent service for our residents and businesses.

"The report identified a number of opportunities to deliver improved outcomes and made a series of recommendations.

"We are working on those recommendations through a detailed action plan, which includes an objective to fill staff vacancies as soon as possible and review the structure of the development management team

"Our planning service currently represents value for money but we are committed to providing an even better service which effectively and efficiently meets the changing needs of our borough now and into the future."

To view the report please go here hertsmere.gov.uk/democracy/documents/s49587/Planning%20Service%20Peer%20Review.pdf

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