Bosses pledge to reverse Suffolk Coastal target failings

Suffolk Coastal District Council headquarters in Woodbridge

Suffolk Coastal District Council headquarters in Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

A district council has said that its failure to meet deadlines for determining small scale planning applications will be reversed by the end of the financial year.

Little more than half of minor applications (up to nine houses) made to Suffolk Coastal in the first half of the financial year have been determined within the council’s eight-week target deadline.

The council aims to determine 65% of applications inside the target, but determined just 42.55% (60 of 141 applications) from July to September.

The council performed significantly better in the first quarter of the year, but still missed its target, deciding 70 of 111 applications (63%) inside the deadline.

It claimed that failure to meet the target had been due to “vacancies in the support team” and the recent switch to a new shared ‘eastsuffolk’ computer network with Waveney.

Suffolk Coastal predicts an improvement in performance now that roles have been filled, with a new planning development manager in place to provide support for the development management team.

A performance report due before cabinet members this evening says: “Planning performance on minor and other applications has temporarily reduced this quarter due to some vacancies in the support team and the planned migration to the new IT system. The recruitment process has been completed and service delivery improvement will be seen during the rest of the year.”

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Figures also show that the planning inspector overturned almost half the council’s decisions taken to appeal – with 10 of 22 appeals upheld in the last quarter.

Conversely, the council has been outperforming its 65% target for determining larger scale planning applications inside 13 weeks. In the second quarter it decided on seven out of 10 applications inside the period – surpassing its 60% target and taking the year-to-date average to 82.14%.

In total, there were 66 homes finished in Suffolk Coastal from July to September – more than double the 25 completions from April to July.

So far this financial year, SCDC has received about £425,000 in planning application income – £130,000 more than its budgeted income of £295,200.