Dorset Council has cleared the planning validation backlog, it says.
This means that planning applications are now being validated within a few days of receipt. The council’s planning transformation project has brought together planning data from five former district councils onto one planning database. This, combined with the introduction of more efficient processes, has enabled the team to clear a large validation backlog, the council says.
The authority points out that nationally the construction industry has seen a huge surge during the pandemic, and the housing market has also remained buoyant.
Validation is the first stage in the planning application process. It checks whether all the information required to process the application has been submitted.
If the application is considered valid then the application is placed on the planning register, allocated a planning case officer and given an application reference number. This is when the planning application is publicised, and people can make comments.
Following the consultation stage, planning officers will assess each application against Local and Neighbourhood Plans and National Planning Policy, considering any material considerations raised in submitted comments, to determine whether the planning permission should be granted or not. Most applications are determined by officers under an arrangement called delegated powers, while more complex or controversial applications may be presented to a committee of elected councillors for a decision.
Councillor David Walsh, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: ‘Clearing the validation backlog has been a huge task and well done to all concerned. But this means that a large wave of applications must go through the planning process.
‘Our planning officers now have the huge task of assessing all the applications, and there will still be some delays in issuing decisions. Please bear with us while our team works hard to assess these applications and issue decisions.’
Dorset Council says the transformation work is continuing, with a final phase of migration work due to be completed in the new year. ‘We will continue to develop our system and improve our online register. We will continue to reduce the processing time for planning applications and land searches with a view to providing the best possible service to our customers,’ said a spokesperson.