FLINTSHIRE residents and developers could face a longer wait for their planning applications to be dealt with this summer, the council has warned.
A statement currently showing on the planning portal of Flintshire Council’s website has called for patience on dealing with applications, due to a number of vacancies within the planning department coupled with a high case load for staff to deal with.
The statement reads: “We are currently experiencing high volumes of case work together with reduced resource resulting from a number of vacancies that have arisen in the development management team.
“Unfortunately this is having an impact on our capacity to deliver the service and it is likely that there will be delays in determining planning applications, responding to enquiries and investigating planning enforcement complaints.
“We are looking to increase capacity as quickly as we can but the service is likely to be impacted until late autumn. We would ask you to be patient whilst we work through this period.”
When approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, cabinet member for planning, Mold East Cllr Chris Bithell (Lab) did not rule out the high case volume of case work being in part due to Flintshire Council now having a Local Development Plan (LDP) in place, giving people more confidence to put in applications.
He said: “Our local plan went through at the beginning of the year and that probably has a great deal to do with it.
“Some planning applications are quicker and easier to deal with than others, and people have been going (from the department) – we have lost people who have got promotions or moved on.”
The LDP is a required plan that earmarks sites across the county on which thousands of houses and developments can be built over the next few years.
As well as having the development plan in place, Cllr Bithell added that Flintshire Council had “more or less” found a resolution some of the phosphates issues, allowing more developments in Flintshire to proceed.
Potential river pollution has been a major issue causing uncertainty and holding up planning applications across Wales in recent years.
More than two years ago Natural Resources Wales (NRW) published new targets to reduce river phosphate levels in special areas of conservation (SAC) across Wales.
It followed concerns about an increase in phosphate concentrations – which can cause water pollution in rivers.
Some planning applications locally had to be rejected on phosphate reasons alone while other applications have been held up in the system for some time with plans revised to include mitigation measures.
During this period Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Government and local authorities have been working together to try and find a solution to the issue.
Cllr Bithell said that by working with Natural Resources Wales and water treatment operators, progress has been made on this issue in Flintshire.