Council planning department crisis puts Kingston at risk

A crisis in Kingston Council’s planning department is giving poor service to local residents and risks developers taking advantage to force unsuitable development onto the borough.

Kingston’s Conservative councillors have discovered the crisis following the release of information by council officers. Cuts to planning services are having a dramatic negative impact with reports that the once 18-strong team has now been reduced to just five.  Things seem set to get even worse, with an apparent lack of leadership within the planning department.

The resulting poor planning service means that local householders are having to wait for months for simple planning queries and permissions. However, the chronic delays are also putting the borough at risk of having unsuitable developments forced on them by large developers, as they have the option to go straight to appeal for non-determination by Kingston Council.

It has also come to light that some of those working on planning applications for Kingston Council aren’t directly employed and are working from other countries. This means that those working on many of the planning applications do not have the local knowledge that is so important when determining controversial planning applications.

Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Opposition, said:    “Local residents are waiting months for simple planning advice or permissions. In 12 months we have gone from a highly regarded service to a catastrophic failure which will only end with developers running rings around our Council.”

Cllr Roy Arora, Conservative Spokesman for Planning, said:   “We’ll all end up paying the price for a poor quality planning service, which will leave the borough vulnerable to large development companies seeking to build unsuitable dense towers throughout the borough.”