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  • Oliver Hodgson

Top marks for council's Planning team

COPELAND Council continues to have one of the strongest performing planning departments in the country, according to end-of-year figures. The council has one of the highest rates nationally for the speed in which it made decisions on planning applications in 2019/20, far exceeding government-set targets. It also has one of the highest percentages of planning applications approved (98.5 per cent).

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, said: “This is an outstanding achievement for the team which continues its trend of, year after year, being among the country’s best. “For the fourth consecutive year, our Planning department has not only achieved government-set targets but surpassed every one of them by a significant margin. “This is no mean feat, given the volume of high-profile and complex planning applications that come our way.

“The fact that we’re able to pass so many of the applications we receive is testament to the work that goes on at the pre-application stage, in which our team works diligently with applicants to address issues ahead of the application being made. “The team has also shown great resilience, to be able to adapt to the significant challenges the Covid-19 crisis has brought to continue to run this key service by accepting and determining planning applications and offering applicants advice and guidance.” The end-of-year report shows:

  • 100 per cent (9 out of 9) of ‘major’ planning applications, including large housing estates and office space, determined within a 13-week deadline (65 per cent target)

  • 99 per cent (309 out of 312) of ‘minor’ and ‘other’ planning applications, including smaller housing estates, non-major office/retail space and domestic alterations, determined within an eight-week deadline (80 per cent target)

The first virtual meeting of the Planning Panel, in which councillors meet remotely to hear representations in order to decide on the higher-profile applications, took place on June 3. The next panel is scheduled for June 24. Nick Hayhurst, Copeland’s Planning and Place Manager, said: “I am extremely proud of our end-of-year figures, and it is an enormous credit to the whole team. “All our planners are encouraged to achieve chartered status through the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), and I’m pleased to say that two members of the team have achieved this accreditation in recent months.” On a visit to Whitehaven last year, Ian Tant, then President of the RTPI, praised Copeland Council’s Planning team’s “vision and ambition” for the town. Mr Hayhurst added: “We are very ambitious for Copeland and are working hard with developers and partners to continue to bring about growth and innovation. Planning has a key role to play in the recovery of our economy post-Covid-19 and partnership working will be at the core of our efforts to regenerate our town centres.”

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