Posted: Thu 7th Apr 2016

Report Highlights Planning Service Improvements

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Apr 7th, 2016

Householders, businesses and investors have benefitted from an improved Swansea Council planning service over the last two years. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A report being considered by the council’s Scrutiny Programme Committee on Monday April 11 shows considerable progress in performance since 2014, despite the major financial challenges faced by the authority. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Improvements include the percentage of planning applications determined within eight weeks. From April to June 2015, the figure stood at 80%, but it rose to 86% from October to December 2015, which was among the best performances in Wales. Although full figures aren’t yet available for the January to March 2016 period, current statistics suggest performance in this area has risen again to 89%. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Other areas of improvement include the percentage of major planning applications determined within required timescales, which increased from 6% in 2014/2015 to 32% in 2015/2016. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Ryan Thomas, Swansea Council’s Development, Conservation and Design Manager, said: “We recognise how important the performance of the planning service is for householders and businesses across the city, as well as for companies looking to invest in Swansea, which is why we’ve focussed on improving performance, despite the budgetary challenges we face. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Considerable progress has been made over the last two years or so, but it hasn’t come about by chance. A combination of factors has led to these encouraging improvements, including the hard work and dedication of our planning officers, the introduction of a new electronic document management system, and a review of the planning service as a whole to gauge where and how we could be more efficient. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Our Planning Committee structures were amended in January 2015 to broadly align with Welsh Government recommendations, which has also had a significant influence over progress.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The report shows the number of decisions against officer advice made by Councillors on the Planning Committee has dropped from 26 in 2014/2015 to 7 in 2015/2016. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Other areas of improvement include the percentage of appeals dismissed, which has risen from 55% in 2014/2015 to 61% in 2015/2016. The number of outstanding enforcement complaints has also dropped from 674 in July 2014 to 450 in March 2016, reflecting a council commitment to actively tackle breaches of planning control. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Thomas said: “The challenge now is to maintain our levels of improvement and deliver the council’s regeneration agenda, including the redevelopment of the city centre, in the face of what will continue to be extremely difficult economic times for the planning service and the council as a whole.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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