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THE ISSUE (ON THE RIGHT): Some applications take longer

George Browne

THE ISSUE (ON THE RIGHT): Some applications take longer

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The Town and Country Planning Department plays a pivotal role in facilitating and stimulating growth in the economy.

Prior to the carrying out of any development you require planning permission and to facilitate this process.

Over the years, the planning department has implemented and continues to implement measures to improve the efficiency and the processing of applications, and as part of this, the efficiency working group of the Social Partnership has also worked well with the Town Planning Department regarding this efficiency.

The Chief Town Planner sits on this committee.

The scanning and archival of applications are some of the measures which we have introduced in the last years, and this process has significantly increased the processing of applications, in that we have been able to have that information and it reduces the time.

The officer dealing with those applications can now go on the computer and access a lot of this information.

There is also provision whereby applications can be submitted electronically.

I must say that this process has not gone as well as we would have liked. There are some issues which we have to iron out.

We have also done a lot of work regarding the development of our

e-planning – the upgrade to our website and so on – and we have also implemented in-house and outside training for officers.

Two of our officers are currently in the United Kingdom pursuing their master’s degrees, one in geographical information systems and the other in town planning.

I know we have gotten some bad Press and the Town Planning Department was one of the agencies mentioned as responsible for the downturn in the economy.

It was stated that an application takes at least 277 days to process. During the financial year April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2014, we were able to process 63 per cent of the applications submitted within a period of 120 days.

In the previous financial year, we were able to process 67 per cent of those applications in less than 120 days and for the period April 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 we were able to process 86 per cent of the applications submitted within less than 90 days.

We know that there are applications which take long. For example, those applications which involve environmental impact assessments.

Those are some of the applications which would take a much longer period, but our statistics show we have been able over the last three to four years to process applications in a much faster way.

As part of the applications process, we always encourage developers to have discussions prior to the submission of the applications. We also encourage developers – those that would involve either an environmental impact assessment or traffic impact assessment –  to have discussions with the Town Planning Department and to submit the terms of reference with the application, so that would also speed up the process.

So if you have discussions with us, you will know how to form the terms of reference and this would facilitate the preparation of the environmental impact assessment.

George Browne is Deputy Chief Town Planner.