Planning service to be made more customer focused

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News release: 07 September 2011

Steps are being taken to make the planning service at St Albans City and District Council more customer focused.

plans

The move follows the introduction of a series of measures to address delays in the processing of planning applications earlier in the year which have helped to significantly reduce a backlog in outstanding applications.

At a meeting on 6 September, Cabinet noted the latest performance figures for August which confirm that the backlog is continuing to fall.

It also welcomed a planned review of how the Council can improve the customer experience (including views of local builders and developers), satisfaction levels and general understanding of the planning process.  This will involve consultation with the Parishes, councillors and local groups.

The following actions are being taken:

• a review of the planning pages on the Council’s website and written literature that relates to the planning process to ensure that customers can easily understand them,
• re-introduction of pre-application meetings for householders,
• training of our customer services team so that they better understand the planning process and are able to respond to more complex planning related enquiries from members of the public, and
• contingency plans to cope with any sudden rise in the number of incoming planning applications.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation at the Council, said: “Cabinet is pleased that the backlog in outstanding planning applications has been substantially reduced. This is partly due to a number of measures the new Cabinet agreed in June, including the upgrading of IT software and increasing staffing levels, and also due to the hard work of officers. The next stage is to improve customer service so that members of the public are able to quickly access information and guidance about planning applications and this plan of action will help achieve that.“

A further progress report on the Council’s planning service will be made at the next Cabinet meeting.

A webcast of the meeting on Tuesday, 6 September can be accessed online via the Council’s website. People with access to an appropriate computer with broadband internet access and Microsoft Windows media player will be able to view the meeting.

Member contact:
Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation
Tel: 01582 761014

Contact for the press:
Amanda Wilkinson, Communication Officer
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317
E-mail: amanda.wilkinson@stalbans.gov.uk
www.stalbans.gov.uk