EXTRACT FROM LAMBETH'S PERFORMANCE DIGEST
SHOWING PERCENTAGE OF APPLICATIONS DETERMINED IN EIGHT WEEKS
BV109Percentage of planning applications determined
within eight weeks
|Contact officer: Trevor WhitesideTeam Leader, Best Value/Households
December has shown an upturn in the eight week performance,
following the slight downturn in November. The marked improvement
has appeared in Non-Household applications. Household performance
has again shown a slight fall, although remains relatively high.
The overall figure for the quarter (Oct-Dec) stands at 62 per
cent, which continues the improvement in performance for the year
(41 per cent in the first quarter and 58 per cent in the second).
The performance figure for all applications for the year to date
is 54 per cent, which, although a marked improvement from previous
years, is still below target.
The improvement in the eight week performance level is reflected
in the average time taken to deal with applications. The overall
figure is now 10.9 weeks, having fallen from 11.2 weeks in November
and 11.4 in October. The figure for the quarter is 11.2 weeks
which again is an improvement from the previous two quarters (16.4
weeks in the first quarter and 12.7 weeks in the second).
Caution however is still needed in view of the continuing
instability of the service, particularly in terms of staff resources.
There is still a high percentage of agency staff, mainly from
the southern hemisphere. A significant number of these staff have
taken their longer holidays at this time of year in order to spend
Christmas at home. This, together with the normal holiday disruption
at Christmas, is likely to affect figures over the next couple
of months. In addition to this, three more staff are leaving the
department between now and the end of January. Although attempts
are being made to replace these staff with short term agency staff,
the handover will lead to a certain degree of disruption. Until
the department is established on much firmer foundations, performance
levels will remain at risk and the predictability of the service
will remain uncertain.
The trends in performance continue to be encouraging, although
the nature of the service remains fragile.
Lord Falconer met the leader and Development Control Manager
on 15 January to review Lambeth's handling time performance for
the current year, compared to the target set in December 2000,
that Lambeth and 14 other "failing" authorities should
improve their performance to deal with 65 per cent of all applications
within eight weeks for the year 2001-02.
Lord Falconer noted the improvements made by the service
since January 2001, but stated in his letter dated 17 January
2002 that "while you have set out a number of steps to deliver
further improvements in performance, I remain concerned that the
council has a long history of poor performance in development
control that stems from a number of contributory factors. There
is an urgent need for further measures to turn the service round."
It was agreed at the meeting that an action plan would be
prepared for a follow-up meeting with Lord Falconer, now set for
2pm on Monday 25 February 2002: the civil servants advising Lord
Falconer require that action plan no later than 20 February 2002;
the plan will be based on the Planning Service Business Plan (to
be adjusted to reflect the current position re structure of the
service) assuming that the growth items set out in the budget
papers to Policy Committee on 28 January 2002 are agreed.
The measures will include all available options to improve
handling time performance (regardless of whether such options
have previously been discounted by service managers), and will
be based on an analysis of what scope there is to improve with
available resources and additional staff (in particular a Development
Control administration supervisor and additional area team deputy
managers) which would be funded by the growth if agreed.
The forthcoming Best Value review of the Planning Service
will take as an absolute given the requirement to achieve 65 per
cent handling times (and to move to achieve the higher handling
time targets operative from April 2002): this would of course
be set against other service requirements not least effective
consultation and access to the planning servicesomething
which would be facilitated by imaging current applications and
implementing the LLPG project.