BCP Council planning team focuses on application backlog at the expense of dealing with public
BCP Council's planning team spent five days not replying to the public by phone or email to try to catch up on a backlog of decisions.
It said the tactic had helped staff resolve 75% more applications than they usually would.
Employees stopped responding to direct enquiries from the public between 6th and 10th December, focusing their efforts instead on determining requests.
During what the authority termed a "very successful clearance week", the team reached decisions on 350 applications.
Cllr Philip Broadhead, deputy leader and cabinet member for development, growth and regeneration, said: “Clearance week is one example of how we are dealing with the challenges currently facing our planning service, which we have always been open and transparent about.
"This has been a really positive endeavour which saw a 75% increase in planning decisions in just one week – 85% of those being for approval.
“We know that colleagues in planning continue to face high and increasing volumes of applications, with legacy processes and systems that are being improved and harmonised."
Pressures on the planning department would continue, though, said Cllr Broadhead, as high numbers of applications keep coming.
"I would like to again thank residents and developers who have been patient with us," he added.
"Hopefully they will see positive impacts being made by our new leadership team and ongoing efforts to improve the service.
"We’re rapidly creating one of the best places to live and work in the country, and we need a planning service to support this. I’ve no doubt we can deliver this with our ongoing investment and improvement programme in place.”
Following the results of "clearance week", BCP Council said it will consider similar initiatives in the future.