Friday, 2 May 2014

Where have all the planners gone?

I wrote a piece back in December that was inspired in part by the news that 87% of respondents to a DCS Planning Consultancy Survey agreed that a shortage of planning staff is a major constraint on timely decision-making.

That led me to think about LPA staffing levels across the North West and with the help of my colleague Claire Pegg and a few FOI requests later...
North West LPA Planning Staff 2010-2014
Whilst many authorities have a similar amount of full time equivalent (FTE) posts and some teams are actually larger, based upon the information that we have been able to obtain, it is most striking that there are at least 109 fewer LPA planners now than there were in 2010 (though the reduction in the size of the teams at Manchester and Oldham alone represent 42% of that figure).

With reports that three in five Councils will have exhausted other ways of making savings by the 2015/16 financial year, further reductions in FTE posts should surely be expected. Given that development activity is increasing and that the local plan process continues to get more difficult to navigate, this year's consultancy survey will probably identify a shortage of staff as an even greater constraint.

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