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Parishes warned of planning pinch

September 26, 2012 5:53 PM

Wiltshire Council has warned local councils of what it calls a 'pinch point' as the planning service comes under increasing strain.

The Development Service (Development and Building Control, Planning Enforcement, Conservation, Minerals & Waste and Local Land Charges) is involved in a number of major work streams.

The principal two are its 'Transformation Programme' and the roll-out of a single computer system to replace the five systems acquired from the former districts and county councils.

Staff are having to work on and test the new computer system to ensure a smooth transition. This involves checking that vast amounts of historical data have been successfully transferred, and have ended up in the right place. The team also has to make sure the new programme works properly when new data is added. The team will be registering, validating and processing test planning and building control applications and complaints then generating trial committee reports, agendas and decision notices. They will also be testing that links to Finance and the mapping system work and that the pre-application enquiries, planning appeal and discharge of condition modules are functioning.

Every member of staff will also need to be trained on the new software.

Users of planning services are asked to bear with and support the service during this period of unprecedented pressure.

WC say that every effort is being made to minimise the impact on applicants and the public. However at any one time up to ten staff could be pulled out of each hub to help roll out the new system. This means that applications will take longer to register/determine, responses to enquiries will be delayed and some officers will not be as readily available as they are at the moment. The legacy systems will also have to be turned off and there will be periods of several days when it is difficult for officers to extract any electronic planning information for parts of the county.

The intention is to 'go live' with the majority of the new system at the start of December. This will include everything on the planning systems for the East and South areas of the county with the North and West areas phased to follow in February/March.