Epsom & Ewell Borough Council have received official notification from the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Rachel Maclean MP, that their planning department is no longer under review for designation.
In April 2023 the council, along with nine other local authorities, received a letter from Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which stated that due to the performance levels of the council on planning applications during October 2020 and September 2022, designating the council was under consideration.
See Epsom and Ewell Times report of 15th May 2023 Epsom and Ewell planning improving after Government threat?
The council had been fully aware of this historic issue relating to performance over that period, which was a result of Covid and capacity-related issues. Having acknowledged the issues, the council took swift decisive action to address them, securing additional staffing resourcing within the department as well as investing in IT and improved ways of working.
As a result of the council’s actions, service levels and performance on planning applications improved rapidly and significantly. Since early 2022, the council has continued to determine at least 90% of planning applications within the statutory timescale target, compared to the government threshold of 70%:
- Apr-Jun 2022 – 95%
- Jul-Sep 2022 – 91%
- Oct-Dec 2022 – 95%
- Jan-Mar 2023 – 96%
- Apr-Jun 2023 – 95%.
- Jul-Sept 2023 – 90%
Jackie King, Chief Executive of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said:
“We are very pleased that the Secretary of State has recognised the issues the council faced were historic and temporary in nature, and that the council has worked very hard to take significant proactive steps to address and improve them, resulting in our Planning Department far exceeding national targets over the past five consecutive quarters. We have a strong and stable team and systems in place and are very confident that we will continue to provide a high level of service, over and above what is expected, into the future.”