Positive feedback for Highland Planning Service
Good collaborative workings, a commitment to customer service and above average decision-making timescales were just some of the positive actions flagged up during an annual review of The Highland Council’s Planning Service.
Each year all Scottish Councils submit a Planning Performance Framework to the Scottish Government which sets out how they have performed against a series of agreed categories and the feedback received last week gives The Highland Council very positive feedback which will be discussed in detail by the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee when it meets in February.
Also highlighted in the feedback report was progress the Council has made in clearing backlogs of planning applications and in delivering service improvements identified in the previous year. One of these was the new enforcement procedures, which received a Quality Award from the Council in November.
Key performance indicator information is regularly reported to Highland Councillors as part of the agenda of the Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee.
Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Thomas Prag said: “This was a busy year for the planning service, with a challenging programme of development planning work as well as Highland Council being one of the busiest local authorities in terms of numbers of planning applications being determined.
“I am pleased with the progress made in implementing improvements set out in last years’ service improvement plan. Notably our Enforcement service has been supported and strengthened, and the way in which customers can contact us, and get updates to their complaints has been vastly improved. We have also achieved performance improvements in terms of reduced timescales for local developments, and have implemented processing agreements for the majority of major planning applications.
“Improvements have also been made to the speed of dealing with legal agreements, meaning that legacy cases can now be dealt with more effectively. Engagement with key stakeholders has also improved, and a training programme with community councils, focus groups with agents and an effective training programme for our planning team have all been useful and welcomed.
“At our next Committee meeting we’ll be able to look at the findings in detail but the feedback we received last week from the Scottish Government is very positive. Staff deserve praise and to be thanked for their efforts and their commitment in continually looking at ways to improve and enhance our planning service.”
The Scottish Government will be publishing an Annual Performance Report in the new year which will summarise performances across the country against the key markers. A copy of the Council’s 2013/14 submission is available on the Council’s website.