Some 18 months after it replaced six former local authorities and a decade after the former councils started sharing planning services, Dorset Council has confirmed that it is finally rolling out its single planning support service.
The potential benefits to customers can derive from a single and hopefully consistent approach to pre-application advice, charging and quality as well as a single validation process for submitting and registering planning applications.
Hopefully this will replace the historic variations in service that are experienced even within the unified Dorset Council where one part of the organisation can validate planning applications within 1-2 days whilst other parts of the same organisation can take weeks to complete the same task.
The ability to bring the various teams together can also offer opportunities to learn best practice in processing well-presented planning applications into the public consultation stage quickly provided the re-design has taken the opportunity to listen to the views of the various stakeholder with an interest in delivering good quality development.
Similarly, the opportunity to replace the various back office document management systems could make searching for planning applications and the labelling of individual documents more user friendly, provided the re-design has sought to take the best from each former council. It is hoped that the ability to search planning applications via a GIS mapping base will be embedded within the new service.
Chapman Lily Associate Director John Hammond commented that this announcement offers an opportunity for Dorset Council to demonstrate that there are benefits to the larger scale of the new council, provided it has sought to take be best elements from the previous councils and is looking to deliver the quality of service its customers deserve.
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