Councillors welcome Fife authority’s reduction in planning approval times

Fife Council has reduced the time it takes to make planning decisions
Fife Council has reduced the time it takes to make planning decisions

A reduction in the length of time Fife Council takes to determine major planning applications has been welcomed by councillors.

However planning officers at this week’s Scrutiny committee meeting admitted there was still improvements to be made.

The Fife authority had previously reported an average of 54 weeks to determine major applications, way beyond the Scottish Government’s statutory time period of four months .

But following a series of new working practices and staff replenishment officers reported that figure had now been reduced to 38 weeks, with latest performance for 2017/18 suggesting a further improvement to 31 weeks determination time.

A number of factors including delays in statutory consultations with key agencies, most notably Scottish Water, as well as delays over negotiations with developers regarding new school funding commitments were said be the two main issues affecting performance.

“A number of improvements including better communication, the use of drones to save time on site visits and better use of technology has and will continue to have a positive impact on the time taken to determine major applications,” Kevin Treadwell, service manager, Major Business and customer services told councillors.

A planning proposal is deemed a major application id it is more than 50 homes, the site exceeds two hectares or the proposed floorspace exceeds 5000sqm.