CHANGES to the way a council deals with planning applications are being brought in to save time and money.
Fareham Borough Council has introduced its Vanguard way of working to the planning committee and aims to speed up the time it takes for planning applications to be decided.
Chairman of the planning committee Nick Walker welcomed the changes, which will give council officers more power, as he said it will allow the committee to spend time on larger issues.
Cllr Walker said: ‘Lots of time the committee is sat there for reasons that are not planning reasons.
‘For all those times, a council officer has put in a lot of hard work and effort into preparing a case file for us to consider,
‘This is holding us up from larger applications.’
The new way of working has been brought in by a company called Vanguard, which introduces new ways of working. It was introduced by the council into other departments in May 2013 at a total cost of £300,000.
This sum was criticised at the time, as it was initially designed to improve the council’s customer satisfaction rating, which already stood at 92 per cent.
However, it has since brought about savings of £380,000 a year leading to the council raising staff wages, freezing council tax for the seventh year running and saving services.
As it has been successful, it has been rolled out to other departments of the council.
Council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘This will allow the committee to focus on the more contentious and major applications.
‘There is always the safeguard that any councillor can cause an item to called in to the planing committee, so the democratic safeguard is there.’
Previously any application with just one letter would go to the committee.
Under the new rules, only applications with five or more letters, either for or against, or with a petition containing more than five names, will go to the planning committee.
Any councillor can also call the application in.
Brenda Clapperton, secretary of the Fareham Society, welcomed the changes, particularly with large planning applications like new 6,000-home town Welborne and the proposed 1,550-home Newlands estate on the horizon.