Mid Suffolk Planning Peer Challenge
Planning Service Peer Challenge
Mid Suffolk District Council organised a Planning Service Peer Challenge in November 2021, which was delivered by the Local Government Association (LGA) with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) and a group of serving officer and Councillor peers from Local Authorities from across the country.
Peer challenges are managed and delivered by the sector for the sector. It is important to stress that this review is not an inspection; they are improvement orientated and are tailored to meet the individual council’s needs. Designed to complement and add value to a council’s own performance and improvement, they help planning services review what they are trying to achieve, how they are going about it, what they are achieving, and what they need to improve.
The aim of the review was to assess the role of the Council’s Planning Committees in decision making, public transparency within the process and efficiency of planning decision making. It looked at whether the Council is making robust and defensible decisions, if the call in and delegation procedures are working effectively, to review the quality of committee reports, the quality of debate at committee, levels of engagement, openness & transparency of decision making and overall efficiency and effectiveness within the service.
The PAS review team met with community representatives, councillors, staff, customers and partners between 22-29th November and provided the final report in March 2022. Since then, Officers and Councillors have met through a cross-party Member and Officer working Group to produce an Action Plan to address the recommendations of the report.
Overall, the review team were complimentary about the service in that they considered it to be very well managed with some very efficient processes. They also said that it is performing well against all the national planning performance indicators for the timeliness and quality of decision making, has a strong land supply position and good record of housing delivery. And they said that both officers and Councillors should be commended for responding positively to the challenges of continuing to deliver the service through the Covid pandemic.
The review also recognised, however, that there are challenges for the service and identified a number of recommendations for improvement. These are detailed in the links below.
The Action Plan has been developed by officers and Councillors working together through a cross-party Working Group. It will enable a number of improvements but it will also be kept under review so that it can evolve where necessary to ensure the actions taken continue to address the challenges experienced.
Updated: 05 July 2022