Planning Improvement Board

A review of the Council’s planning service, carried out by a group of “peers” from other local authorities, has highlighted a number of key strengths within the service as well as areas where further improvements are needed.

Cornwall Council is committed to delivering high standards in all area of its planning service. While the service has historically met high standards of performance, it is currently facing a number of significant challenges.  To help address these issues, Members invited the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Planning Advisory Service (PSA) to work with the Council to identify areas for improvement.

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A team of six “peers” took part in the planning improvement peer challenge, including officers and Members from District and County Councils, and representatives from the LGA and the PSA.  During the challenge period the team spoke to a wide range of Members, officers and representatives of key partners, as well as attending a number of committee meetings.

The final report praises the high standards of performance in determining applications, with the peers concluding that “the Development Management Service delivers well in many areas and for the vast majority of its customers”. It also highlights the quality of leadership provided by the Portfolio and Head of Service, the high level of local Member involvement, and the strong training provided to Members and staff.

Other strengths include the good relationships between senior managers and Chairs and members of Committees, the focus on delivering affordable housing, the professionalism and high quality advice provided by specialist officers in areas such as affordable housing, highways and natural environment, and the comprehensiveness of the officer reports presented to Members.

The report also sets out a number of recommendations to address areas of improvement identified by the peers.  Some of these relate to improving the performance and behaviour of Members, with proposals to review the committee structure, provide additional training for Members, redefine the role of Divisional members at committee meetings and improve relationships between officers and some Members, and between the Council and the development industry. Others involve building political consensus to use new development to help support other key Council priorities, including devolution, and providing homes and jobs for local people.

The Council takes the findings of the peer review very seriously and is committed to building on the strengths of the service and addressing areas of concern.

As a result the Council has set up an improvement board, chaired by the Portfolio Holder, to develop and deliver recommendations made by the Peer review.

The key documents from the Improvement Board can be found on this page.