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Wrexham planning decisions significantly delayed due to recruitment issues

MAJOR delays to decisions on planning applications in Wrexham have been blamed on recruitment issues.

It follows figures being published which show it took planners from Wrexham Council an average of 236 days to determine applications during the last 12 months.

In the second quarter of the 2023/24 financial year, the average wait for applicants was even higher at 344 days.

Welsh Government targets state that local authorities must issue a decision within an average of less than 67 days for their performance to be considered as “good”.

Anywhere between 67 to 111 days is described as “fair”, while responding within 112 days or more means improvements are required.

The council’s chief officer for economy and planning said the hold-ups had been caused by difficulties in recruiting to vacant posts within his department.

In a report to councillors, David Fitzsimon said: “There remains considerable pressure on the development management team due to on-going vacancies.

“A total of three posts are vacant, including one senior planning officer post and two planning officers.

“Efforts to recruit to all three vacant posts have proved unsuccessful to date.

“The team’s lead officer has also just put on notice that he will leave the authority in two months.”

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Support for the team is currently being provided by three temporary staff members.

A small number of planning applications are also being dealt with by a senior officer and the council’s head of service for planning.

However, Mr Fitzsimon said the amount of assistance they could provide was “limited” due to their senior roles.

He said: “This does mean that individual team members remain under considerable pressure with very high caseloads.

“Determination times for applications informal enquires are taking longer as a result.

“Efforts are continuing to secure additional staff resources for the development management team.

“However, considerable challenges remain, and it is unlikely that performance will improve significantly during quarter one of 2024-25.”

The report will be discussed by members of the authority’s planning committee when they meet on Monday (June 3, 2024).