The Planning Inspectorate has openly admitted flaws within its agency and promises that appeal delays experienced by property developers such as Richard Carr have been sorted.
The new chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) Sarah Richards has insisted that the problems faced by customers during the last financial year with the PINS appeals service were to be a thing of the past. According to Richards the agency is “well advanced” with its actions designed to resolve the problems.
Speaking in the agency’s recently published annual report, Richards admitted: “in several areas of our planning appeals service, we fell well short of our targets, and in many cases, our customers experienced significant delays”.
The admission is a breath of fresh air to Richard Carr who having worked in the industry for 30 years has always felt that planning departments hide behind excuses. He sees Richards’ first actions as the new CEO a step in the right direction.
Like many issues within the UK’s planning system, the report cites a number of resource related issues. According to the report the handling of appeal casework become a major issue as a result of inaccurate resource planning, staff not having the right skill sets to carry out the work and incorrect forecasting of expected workload.
For a large part of the year there were delays in validating new appeals and formally starting the appeal process. Enforcement cases and tree perseveration order work were particularly badly affected.
Towards the end of 2015 the agency was beginning to get a grip of appeals which meant that by the final quarter of the year there was a month-on-month improvement for the majority of the cases. The recruitment of 79 new inspectors and the fact that PINS used non-salaried inspectors more flexibly played a major part in this.