06 December 2011
Most planning decisions in Jersey will become quicker next year following the introduction of a package of measures by the Minister for Planning and Environment, which are designed to improve the planning process.
The changes, which include the introduction of a quicker 8-week target for smaller domestic applications and new technology allowing the public to view plans and comment online, are a response to customer feedback about the current planning process.
It is hoped that the changes will not only make it easier for applicants and the public to liaise with the planning department, but will enable the department to operate more efficiently.
The key changes include:
- performance targets – a shorter, 8-week target is to be introduced for smaller applications, to include domestic extensions / alterations and minor applications for commercial premises
- online applications – a new IT system will go live in early 2012, and allow applications to be made online and for the general public to view plans and proposals and for them to comment online
- new ministerial protocol – most applications will be reviewed and decided by department officers or the Planning Applications Panel. The Minister will only get involved in decisions in exceptional circumstances, for example planning schemes of Island-wide significance or those relating to regeneration zones
- third party objections – the Planning Applications Panel will only deal with applications that receive at least 4 objections. Those with fewer objections will be considered by planning officers when making their decision. This will speed up the decision making process
- faster and clearer decisions – lengthy discussions between the applicant and the department can delay decisions. In future, faster and clearer decisions will be made, even if this results in an application being refused. If an application is refused, the applicant will be able to submit a further application for the same type of development on the same site within 6 months without paying a fee
- fairer planning appeals system – the Minister will consult on a new merit-based planning appeal system that is less expensive for appellants than the current Royal Court-based system. This will ensure greater equity in the planning system and offer greater independent challenge on planning decisions
- more exemptions – the Minister has asked the planning department to work with the newly formed Environment Scrutiny Panel to extend the number of development exemptions. These are developments where planning permission is not required
The Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Robert Duhamel, said: “The introduction of these improved measures is great news for Islanders. My department has listened to customer feedback and tried to make changes to the way in which we work so that we can provide people in Jersey with a faster, more efficient planning process. We will review these changes on a regular basis to ensure they are improving the service we offer.”
The Minister also hopes to work more closely with the new Environment Scrutiny Panel to identify other areas for improvement within the Department of the Environment.