Service improvements are brought about through listening to feedback from our customers. This provides information about what is working and what is not. It helps us identify existing and potential problems with our processes and procedures and highlights opportunities for staff development.
Here are some of the actions that we have taken in response to recent feedback:
- Officers across the service have been reminded to return customer calls, respond to customer correspondence within the timescales set within the customer charter, and to respond to enquiries about planning proposals whilst a planning application is considered. Failure to engage with members of the public who may require further assistance to register comments about applications could be identified as maladministration if complaints escalate to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).
- Enforcement Officers reminded to undertake in depth light source assessments of neighbouring property when it is evident there is a breach of the 45 degree code at a development. This should be done in order to prevent requests for remedial action being made on enforcement cases when such remedial works may not be necessary.
- Officers have been reminded that they must ensure all material planning comments of objection or support are fully summarised in their reports. Reports are expected to demonstrate the consideration and weight given to such comments. Failure to do this effectively may lead to maladministration if the complaint escalates to the LGO.
- Neighbour notification letters have been extended to allow 23 days (increased from 21) due to delays in customers receiving notifications and to allow for amendments to the Councils postal services.
- Changes to Stage 2 complaint response closure paragraphs to endeavour to better manage customer expectations if they escalate their concerns to stage 3.
- Review of information available on Planning & Regeneration web pages to advise customers that planning permission is likely to be granted in instances where the proposals comply with planning policy in attempt to reduce complaints about planning decisions.
- Request made to Voice of Customer lead in Corporate Customer Services to request training for planning enquiry call centre staff in respect of processes around planning site visits following an upheld complaint about incorrect information provided by contact centre staff.
- Service improvement implemented following identification that the comment due date showing on the planning online register was inaccurate. This affected a substantially large number of records and an amendment was made to the M3 planning system which has now resolved the problem, ensuring accurate information for people that check comment closure dates on the web.
- Consideration is being given to the value in adding a statement to the notification letter to advise customers they can contact us if they need help viewing planning application details. This is being considered following an upheld complaint from an elderly customer who could not access the web.