A £1.13million boost to a service that deals with planning applications will relieve pressure on staff, a Lichfield District Council cabinet member has said.
The local authority’s cabinet agreed plans to restructure its development management team at a meeting yesterday (7th September).
The additional funding will be introduced in the period up to 2026 and will aim to increase capacity, add extra training and create new roles.
Cllr Angela Lax, cabinet member responsible for development management, said the service had seen a significant increase in demand.
“Our development management team has been dealing with a 26 percent increase in its workload over the past year, which has resulted in some delays and complaints from residents and developers.
“Bringing in a new structure and posts should relieve much of the pressure on the team. It will also make sure we have the experience in-house to deal with upcoming major planning applications.
“We are confident the changes will lead to faster processing times and better customer service, which should boost overall satisfaction with the service.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
A report to the meeting revealed the current challenges facing the development management team were impacting “significantly on the well-being and morale” of staff.
“While service improvements have been made and continue, many of the problems remain with retention of experienced staff within the service, ability to recruit to vacant posts and a significant dependency on interim or agency workers to fill roles and maintain service delivery.
“Reasons for people leaving the authority differ, but a common issue raised is the level and pressure of workloads and demands being made upon post-holders.
“There is a clear need to address the problems of retaining and recruiting staff, but also ensuring the service structure is right in terms of capacity, enabling staff to be adequately supported with manageable workload levels to do their jobs to the required standard and hence the ability to grow and develop the service as a whole.
“In addition to the impact on performance, the pressures placed on officers within the service is impacting significantly on the well-being and morale of individuals, with a number feeling overwhelmed by the levels of work undertaken and the subsequent need to undertake extra hours to meet the work demands placed upon them leading to stress and exhaustion.
“This has proven to be some of the reasons why members of the service have recently left the authority to work elsewhere.
“Without action there is a danger further staff will leave due to the pressures being experienced, performance will continue to decline and the problems that have been voiced – that the service lacks customer responsiveness – will continue despite the positive improvement that has been made to seek to address this particular area.”Report by Cllr Angela Lax