Councillors Question Planning Department Budget Figures

Council chambers

Council chambers

Elected members are reviewing fewer planning applications as Council officer’s take on more of the decisions.

Director of Place Craig Dryden told Tuesday’s Planning Committee meeting that his department is now only bringing the most contentious and important applications to councillors.

He said when he first joined the Authority around 95% of all applications had to go to members for a decision, but said this was inefficient and not cost effective.

Cllr Fran Grottick asked why there was such a large increase in staff costs planned over the next two years.

She wanted to know why the Planning staff budget for 2014/15 was almost £60,000 higher than for this year and almost £100,000 in 2015/16.

Cllr Richard McCarthy also questioned the increase, saying that the restructuring process ought to be sending costs “the other way round.”

But Craig said the figures were an estimate and will be subject to change.

He added that there’s a vacancy for a planning officer that has been deferred to save costs, but says the department is facing pressures to recruit a new member of staff.

He’ll be recommending that at the next management meeting.

The authority has been using Cornwall Council planners for some of its work, which Craig said was good value.

Cllr Christine Savill said she still supported employing a new planning officer for the islands, something that she said was legally required.

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