West Berkshire Council slowest for minor planning applications

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West Berkshire Council has apologised after it was named the slowest local authority in England in resolving minor planning applications.

The council failed to process 94% of applications within the eight-week limit between January and March.

The authority blamed a staff shortage due to a recruitment freeze, illnesses and maternity leave.

Councillor Alan Law said there had been "exceptional circumstances" but the backlog was under control.

The member for planning at the Tory-led council said: "It is not surprising we have dropped down the planning league tables, particularly for minor applications, as we have operated a prioritisation process for the last few months.

'Unacceptable delays'

"We expected to see these figures given the exceptional circumstances we found ourselves in and our previous level of high performance which has always put us at or near the top of the league.

"The good news is we have now got our heads well and truly back above the water and our normal excellent service will soon be restored.

"Nevertheless I am truly sorry for those people who have experienced unacceptable delays."

The government league tables, collated by the Communities and Local Government Department, revealed nationally that 28% of minor applications were not dealt with within eight weeks.

However, the best performing councils were Thurrock, Redditch and Corby which completed 100% of its applications in the allotted time.

West Berkshire did fare slightly better with major applications, with 83% missing the 13-week limit.

Nationally, 38% of major applications went beyond the deadline.

Applicants whose applications go beyond the time limit can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate which can rule on the plan.

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