Broadland’s head of planning asks for more staff to cope with “unprecedented” levels of work

Broadland District Council's offices.

Broadland District Council's offices. - Credit: EDP � 2000

A council's head of planning has pleaded with members to appoint new staff in order to cope with 'unprecedented' levels of work.

Phil Courtier told Broadland District Council's cabinet on Tuesday that there was a significant amount of work currently being placed on officers.

And as a result, there was a risk that the quality of service offered by the council's planning department could be threatened.

It comes as housing developers continue to submit applications across the district.

More than 10,000 homes still need to be built in Broadland between now and 2026. And while a 'substantial amount' have outline permission, the council is still awaiting the final details for many.

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Meanwhile, of the 40 people working in the council's planning department, around 14 of them - some of whom are part-time - are responsible for handling planning applications.

The cabinet report stated that the figure was 'low' compared to other local authorities in the county.

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And as a result, Mr Courtier made what he described as a 'slightly unusual request' to Broadland's cabinet.

He asked for an additional senior planning officer and a technician or graduate apprentice to cope with an increasing workload.

Mr Courtier told members that while there was a cost implication of around £75,000, it could be covered by planning fee income.

In 2016/17 the council received £938,699 in planning fees, and Mr Courtier added there could be a similar figure this year.

Finance portfolio holder Trudy Mancini-Boyle said that it was a 'big assumption' to assume the fee income would increase.

But Mr Courtier said: 'We are continuing to see developers wanting to put in large scale applications and there is no indication that is going to hit a down turn in the next year.

'We are in an unprecedented time and we are seeing unprecedented levels of proposed growth.'

It was noted that planning fees are due to increase by 20pc.

The report warned that if no new staff were employed, there could be a 'degradation' of what Mr Courtier described as a 'high quality' planning service.

Cabinet members agreed to advertise for both a senior planning officer and a planning technician or graduate apprentice.

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