Winchester planning, now officially improved

The planning department at Winchester City Council is now officially recognised by the Government as an "improver" and is rated the 69th most improved planning authority in England.

Winchester has improved in dealing with all types of planning application and is now 200th out of 362 authorities, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced on Friday, rising 92 places from its position of 292nd last year.

The results show how each local planning authority has performed in terms of dealing with planning applications over the last few years.

In terms of historic cities, who face similar problems in terms of numbers of comments on applications and with significant numbers of historic buildings, Winchester is performing better than cities such as Durham (213), Cheltenham (228), Brighton (230), City of Westminster (232), Salisbury (240), Bath (306), Oxford (318), Cambridge (327), and York (337).

The improvements have been seen at every level of the planning process. Major planning applications that are dealt with within 13 weeks have risen from 24% to 45%. Minor applications that are dealt with within 8 weeks have risen from 33% to 53%, and all other applications that are dealt with within 8 weeks have improved from 70% to 82%.

Last year Winchester was in 319th position for dealing with minor applications and in 199th position for dealing with all other applications. This year has seen an improvement to 246th and 111th position respectively.

Simon Cook Portfolio Holder for Environment, Economy and Development said, "These results are very good and reflect the hard work that is being put into improving the planning process. Thanks must go to all our planning staff who have worked extremely hard to achieve this."

"Extra resources gained through the planning delivery grant have helped to target resources to where they are needed, both in terms of staff and IT. We look forward to the announcement of the next round of planning delivery grants, so we can continue our improvement into 2004," he added.