Success at national awards for Council's Planning Service
17th November 2017
The Highland Council received two awards at last week's Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. One Award was in the "Process" Category for the Highland eDevelopment project and the second was in the "Place" category for the Nucleus Building in Wick.
The Council has implemented a Highland eDevelopment project which has delivered a transformation so that over 6,000 planning and building standards applications and enquiries are submitted, assessed and determined electronically, avoiding significant printing costs and delivering an enhanced service for customers.
The project has involved significant changes to the way the planning service works. A fully electronic process now compliments Enterprise, the teams workload management system, meaning that workload is easily transferred across a network of seven area offices if workload issues or staff absences prove it necessary.
Achieving this involved a full review of how planners process all applications (including pre-application requests), the implementation of a mobile working solution for all staff and significant engagement with customers and stakeholders. As a result Highland Council have achieved one of the highest rates of electronic submission in Scotland (over 90%) and been praised by the Scottish Government as a great example of success.
Delighted that the project has received national recognition, Chair of The Council's Environment, Planning and Development Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: "The Judges could see how this project has really increased efficiency and as both customer and staff feedback has been so positive we are already rolling out the approach to other application types.Everyone involved should feel proud of their input and commitment to what is being hailed as an example of good practice for other councils to follow."
The second award was for the Planning teams involvement with the new Nucleus building in Wick.
In early 2015 planning permission was granted for a building for archives of the UK civil nuclear industry and the historical archives of Caithness and the "Nucleus", opened in February this year.
The proposal was subject to pre-application discussions with relevant consultees, coordinated by the Council. The pre-application facilitated a partnership approach and professional knowledge sharing at the outset. Matters identified were addressed by the applicant, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The Council's management of the application process is an excellent example of facilitating development from pre-application stage to completion on the ground in a tight timescale.
The Judges felt this was a wonderful, strong and robust piece of architecture.
Cllr Henderson added his praise; He said: "There was no doubt that it was built to last, which was an important factor considering its precious cultural and built heritage contents. In order to deliver the development, on time, the planning team moved quickly and effectively to deliver so I am pleased their professionalism has been acknowledged by the judges and I congratulate them on winning their award."
(L-R) - Malcolm Macleod, Head of Planning & Environment; Peter Carus (GVA Grimley, Agent for the Nucleus Project); Dafydd Jones, Area Planning Manager; Emma Forbes, Principal Planner; Laura Williamson, Performance and Systems Support Officer; Angus Wilson (Reiach and Hall, Architects); Fiona Elder, Planning Systems Administrator; John Norton (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority); Frank Doherty, Building Standards Team Leader
A Corporate Parenting Board is to be established which will have a duty of care for currently around 500 ‘Looked After' children and young people in Highland. Members of the Highland Community Planning Partnership’s, Community Planning Board have this week (21 March 2018) agreed to establish a Corporate Parenting Board the purpose of which will be to: • promote the corporate parenting role of statutory agencies and awareness of the duties towards care experienced young people in Highland.
The Highland Child Protection Committee has launched a Toolkit to assist individuals, volunteers and community groups working with children and young people understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to child protection. Over 60 people providing activities for children, young people and families in a paid and voluntary capacity came along to the launch event in Inverness yesterday.
Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, has announced his intention to retire from The Highland Council. Bill commenced with the Council in 2000, in a joint post with NHS Highland as Head of Children's Services.
Beware of calls from scammers pretending to be the Telephone Preference Service warns Highland Council Trading Standards. Highland Council Trading Standards wish to warn consumers not to fall for a new telephone call scam in which fraudsters pretend to be calling from the Telephone Preference Service (or TPS).
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
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