The District Council has put forward some proposed changes to the scheme of delegation for the determination of planning applications. As Greens on the District we have put in an initial response paper - see here.
In addition I would like to note here that I am very concerned that the proposals will diminish the influence of Town and Parish Councils. There are many issues which affect the efficient consideration of planning applications like staffing levels that should be fully considered before placing further constraints on allowing applications to go before the Committee. Indeed the District seems to imply that Parish and Town Councils are in some way contributing to the poor performance. In fact Town and Parish Councils are in the best position to know their areas and the District Council should be listening to comments from those directly in touch with the local natural and built environment.
It should also be noted that while this is in response to the Government's calls to improve efficiencies - in fact the Government in response to the Killian Pretty Review has NOT accepted the recommendation that 90% of applications should be delegated to officers but does encourage the maximisation of delegation to officers. This response also accepted one of the report's recommendations that the current time based target (ie 8 weeks and 13 weeks depending on the type of application) is a poor measure of performance - a point I have made before in this blog.
There will no doubt be lots more on this as it has angered many. I hope it will also be an opportunity to improve our planning service - one related issue that I am still trying to get through is better pre-application info - this makes for less likely rejection etc. See for example Woking who have Pre-Application Advice leaflets:
Having good guidance leaflets is also a useful way to help developers and others to make better decisions - and greener decisions! It would also seem that Woking have done all the work and v little resources would be needed to adapt existing work?