The Planning Inspectorate has responded to suggestions in the recent Rosewell Review, which called for the time taken to make planning decisions to be cut from 47 to 26 weeks.
The Rosewell Review made 22 recommendations, ranging from committing the Planning Inspectorate to introducing a new online portal for the submission of inquiry appeals to setting out a strategy for recruiting additional inspectors so inquiries can be scheduled sooner, reducing the length of time they take to conclude.
Through a press statement, which attempted to explain the reasons why planning deicisons were taking so long, the Inspectorate said:
"Our latest external recruitment drive aims to bring over 60 inspectors at Band 1 and a further 15 inspectors at band 2. We are also promoting a large cohort of Band 1 inspectors to Band 2. Extending the pool of highly skilled inspectors whom we can appoint for NSIP applications is vital to ensure examinations are resourced adequately."
Regarding its online service, the Inspectorate revealed a new prototype portal, and said:
"There are aspects of the process that are completed outside the Portal which causes an administrative burden and frustrates users. An example is the questionnaire we ask LPAs to complete for each appeal.
"The prototype website we are building is based on extensive user research and testing involving the input of planning agents, unrepresented appellants, LPAs and interested parties. Our team work closely with these groups to ensure the prototype meets user needs and that we can move into a beta phase with a clear direction.
Feedback indicated that users want clearer guidance when submitting appeals and the new Portal will contain more succinct on-page guidance. Our team of content writers are testing it with the user groups to ensure it meets the need and users get it right first time."
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