Posted: Thu 6th Jul 2023

Planning performance data shows Blaenau Gwent in “healthy position” on league table

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 6th, 2023

A planning chief has told councillors that he expects performance data to improve once changes in the department “settle down.”
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, July 6, the performance data for January to the end of March was discussed.
The data looks at three key indicators: the percentage of planning applications decided on time, the average number of days it takes to decide a planning application, and the number of decisions that have been taken by councillors going against planning officer’s advice.
From January to March 2023 90 per cent of planning applications were decided within an eight-week period of submission.
Looking at the rest of Wales, Blaenau Gwent came in 10th, well above the 84 per cent national average.
Blaenau Gwent planners took on average of 84 days decide each planning application.
Compared with the rest of Wales, Blaenau Gwent came fourth, well above the national average of 123 days.
For this January to March, no decisions were made by councillors on the Planning Committee that went against advice from planning officers. The Wales average was six per cent.
The all-Wales table saw 15 of the 25 planning authorities record no decision taken by councillors contrary to planning officers’ advice, with Blaenau Gwent sitting in second place in the table beneath Bannau Brycheiniog Nation Park Authority.
Planning committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett said:  “It’s lovely to see that we’re now getting the figures off the Welsh Assembly (sic) because we haven’t had these since prior to Covid-19.
“It’s really good that we can compare data.”
Head of planning Steve Smith said: “The historical lag in Welsh Government performance data has been rectified and reports are staring to appear on their website.
On the 90 per cent of planning application completed in time Mr Smith said: “It’s a healthy position, one where we need to get a little higher.”
“My preferred indicator is the average days it takes to decide each application, it gives more of a real-world feeling of the experience of customers when they submit an application.
“The position in the table is OK, we’ll be striving to get back up – if you think that the Welsh Government target is eight weeks which is 56 days, everybody is above that timetable.
“Clearly householder applications go through quicker than major and more controversial applications, which is why it’s an average.
“We are down on capacity, ideally we’ll be looking to improve that once everything settles down.”
The department is in the process of implementing a new software system and a planning officer has been seconded to manage that process.
Cllr Winnett added: “We understand why our figures are not quite as high.”
On the decisions contrary to recommendation Mr Smith explained that: “all those authorities with zero per cent are put in alphabetical order.”
“I’ve tried my best to get Blaenau Gwent to the top of the table, but I think the Brecon Beacons National Park, by changing their name, has beaten us I’m afraid,” said Mr Smith.
Councillors noted the report. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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