Posted: Tue 13th Feb 2024

Delay in Setting Up Blaenau Gwent Planning Website Creates Issues for Public Involvement /

THERE has been a delay in setting up a website for planning applications in Blaenau Gwent.
But council planning chiefs hope the website will be up and running in early spring.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning committee on Thursday, February 8, councillors were given an update on the. project.
At the time the councillors were discussing a report on planning performance which shows that between April 1 to July 30 last year Blaenau Gwent planners were dealing with applications well above the Welsh planning authority average.
But the data showed that the number of days it takes to process an application had ticked up to 95 from the January 1 to March 31, 2023, when it had been 84 days.
Developments and estates service manager, Steve Smith said: “This indicator has dropped from previous performance, I think that’s directly a consequence of seconding out one of our planning officers to work on the new software implementation.
“We are still optimistic of launching that new software in the early spring – but that has seen a drop off in performance but distinctly above the Welsh average.”
Audit Wales highlighted the need for new planning software in a report published in June last year.
They had conducted a review of the council’s planning service in 2023/2023.
One of the issues they found was that the council’s website has “poor functionality” when comparing it with other councils.
The problem is that people can’t search for planning applications online.
Audit Wales believes this “hinders” public involvement in the planning process.
Audit Wales added that it was “positive” to be told that Blaenau Gwent had bought a new IT system which would be implemented by “early” 2024.
Last October senior councillors were told in a Cabinet meeting that the was due to brought into use in early 2024.
Audit Wales added that it was “positive” to be told that Blaenau Gwent had bought a new IT system which would be implemented by “early” 2024.
The need has been echoed last month by planning professionals who highlighted that “not having an open planning portal” causes problems.
The council have stressed that its planning department is “always contactable by telephone and e-mail” for any questions or concerns.
A council spokesperson said: “It will go live this year but as yet we do not have a definitive date.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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