North Ayrshire Council’s planning team named ‘best performing in Scotland’

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A Scottish Government assessment of North Ayrshire Council’s planning team has concluded that it provides the best service of any in Scotland.

Councillors heard of the outstanding, fast and effective service when the report was discussed at a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday.

The team are assessed on 15 key criteria – with the council receiving the best mark (Green) in 12 of these.

The report praised the way the council have cut out the need for time-consuming legal agreements which can delay applications.

The council also met timescales for seven major developments and the Scottish Government also acknowledged that the local development plan was up to date.

There was also recognition of the work done to train councillors on the planning processes, while the work that North Ayrshire carried out with other local authorities was also highlighted.

Councillor Tom Marshall, convenor of the planning committee, said: “Our planning service deserves huge credit for their consistently high levels of performance. To have the best results of any council in Scotland is really outstanding and testament to the hard work and expertise of the team.

“While the planning process can be sometimes be complex, we are making great strides in simplifying the process while ensuring its remains effective.”

Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economy, said: “The planning process is hugely important for individuals and developers so this gives them real reassurance that they are receiving a top service from North Ayrshire Council.

“However, we will not rest on our laurels and will continue to focus on providing the best possible service for everyone.”

All 32 Scottish local authorities are asked to produce an ‘annual return’ each year monitoring themselves against key performance indicators.

North Ayrshire approved its Planning Performance Framework (PPF) and submitted to the Scottish Government for feedback and a review.

The PPF showed that it takes North Ayrshire Council 13.3 weeks to process planning applications for major developments – a massive improvement on the previous year’s figure of 26.7 weeks and significantly faster than the latest Scottish average of 34.2 weeks.

The average time to give decisions on local developments has remained steady at 5.9 weeks and decisions on householder developments has reduced slightly to 4.6 weeks, with 100 per cent being determined within two months.

In what has been a successful 18 months, the Planning Service picked up awards at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning for Saltcoats Town Hall and Meikle Auchengree, as well as a commendation at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Awards for Planning Excellence for its work on Saltcoats Town Hall.

And most recently the service was awarded for its work in developing a number of town centre audits.

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