Council Planning Team Shortlisted For Award

Dudley Council’s planning team have been nominated for another award for transforming the way they work.

The team has been shortlisted for Development Management Team of the Year, and is up against four other local authorities.

Dudley’s bid focuses on how the team has developed their customer service approach in response to detailed consultation with users.  This included ensuring that the traditional channels remained open, with dedicated personal support available 9am – 5pm every day, while also increasing the ease of online applications and electronic communications which now sees almost 70% of applications made through the online planning portal.

All planning documentation back to 1999 is now available for download free of charge to all customers via the council’s website, 24 hours a day from any location. Offices have been streamlined, paper records are being superseded by electronic files, improved software allows a seamless feed of information from system to another and professional officers now use mobile technology to access application data outside of the office, allowing them to give faster more responsive, accurate information to customers and ultimately saving officer time which can be better used in refining plans and negotiating better deals for customers.

Officers have also been empowered to proactively identify development sites, revisit lapsed applications and reinitiate contact with owners to offer assistance to overcome barriers to development.

The transformation processes so far have made tangible savings totalling £300,000 while freeing up 100 team hours per week and this continues to increase. The work flow processes now drive the system processes and as a result to date 258.3 officer hours per annum have been freed up. The team is using this as model to replicate saving across the service by extending it to other application types, anticipating a further saving of money and officer and customer time.

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development, added:

“The planning team has done a remarkable job of transforming the way they work, by putting the customer at the heart of everything they do.

“They have listened to customers and as a result are working smarter, more effectively and are saving the authority money. They’ve shown what can be achieved by listening to our residents and embracing new technology and I wish them luck at the awards.”


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