Here is the message councillors have received in response to their growing concerns that ‘Your Waverley’s planning department is grinding to a halt.
Planning officers are currently experiencing high caseloads due to a high number of submissions as well as changes to ways of working.
We are in the process of implementing an improvement plan that will increase the speed of decisions. As part of the plan, we are moving all of our current and historic cases into our new system (more than 100,000 cases, including one million documents). This is a significant milestone as we work towards going live with our new case management system – thank you for your continued patience as we go through this process.
If our comments post and private e-mail inbox is anything to go by, Waverley residents are getting angry – in fact, outraged -at the continuing poor performance of the council’s planning department.
For over a year now, the planning system has been grinding ever more slowly. No pre-application meetings for wannabe developers – no planning lists for months – a planning portal that works, then buffers, then stops – then starts again. Or, doesn’t work at all. And, to be fair is now working.
Try phoning the same planning officer you spoke to last month and the month before? They have either resigned, no surprise there then – or they were “only working on a short-term contract” or “they are on holiday” or “working from home.”
One officer told a resident whose application had been festering in the bowels of Waverley Towers for over a year…
“The backlog of planning applications is so great they are falling off my desk, but then you can always appeal for non-determination – but you may have a long wait for that to be heard!”
According to Zac Ellwood, the Head of Planning & Economic Development, they can ask for their costs to be returned if planning applications have not been considered within the statutory 8-week time scale. Though he told councillors, they hardly ever do. He even hinted that enforcement action was not a statutory function was incredibly time-consuming and time-hungry but it was up to the Executive to decide whether it should continue?
You can hear what he said in the video link below:
Well! Perhaps it is time everyone did ask for their planning fees to be returned. That might put a firecracker up the department and serve as an incentive? But they probably won’t as they want to get their plans consented, just like we don’t complain about our GP services because perhaps they won’t treat us?
Now the council is thanking us for our patience, just like they thank us for our patience when we are number 20 in the queue for a GP appointment. No wonder half the population is finding the answer to their ailments and their planning queries at the bottom of a bottle.