Our work supporting council planning applications teams shows us that much can be done to improve the lives of planners.
We know the UK has a national shortage of planning capacity. A shortage affected by both the number of planners and their productivity. Councils are rightly directing considerable time and resources towards recruiting new planners and ‘making planning digital’. But both of these will take a little time. And we believe there is another opportunity to unlock capacity more quickly.
Our work with local council planning applications teams shows capacity is being lost through failure demand from unhappy customers waiting longer then necessary for their applications to be determined. We have helped them unlock that capacity to provide a better, faster customer experience and improve the wellbeing of planners.
An important step alongside the medium-term solutions being offered by the sector must focus on reducing lost capacity. This can be done more quickly, bringing about a faster solution to an urgent problem.
Thinking differently - Redbridge Council planning enforcement team's improvement project - Read more
We’re building a national picture of the planning sector with your help.
We’re collaborating with a student from The University of Sheffield to research workloads and capacity in council planning applications teams across England. We want to know how the total number of planning applications in-progress compares to the number of new applications received each week. We call this the ‘Work-in-Progress (WiP) ratio’.
We know that a high WiP ratio causes low productivity, therefore, reduced capacity in planning teams. This lower productivity comes from the failure demand from unhappy customers waiting for their planning applications to be decided. Alongside poor leadership behaviour, high WiP is also a major cause of stress for planners.
Our research will help us to quantify the lost capacity caused by high WiP ratios. We want to help councils to recover this lost capacity and create a better working environment for planners. We will use their lived experiences to advocate for change.
At a time when the sector is short of capacity and finding it harder to recruit and retain new people, this is particularly important.