Leeds’ planning department ‘doesn’t have enough money to carry out all its tasks’

Leeds City Council’s planning department does not have enough money to carry out all its functions, a senior authority figure has claimed.

David Feeney, the council’s planning director, also said a backlog of applications and confused government messaging on reforms were among the service’s biggest hurdles.

It comes amid a £16million hole in the council’s finances, which has led to restrictions on non-essential spending.

Local authorities are responsible for investigating and ruling on all planning applications.

But a post-Covid increase in planning demands and a lack of money and staff has left many councils struggling to do this kind of work quickly and efficiently.

At a meeting of the board’s audit committee on Monday, Mr Feeney highlighted the difficulties his department is facing.

Asked by Labor councilor Jane Dowson if the planning department had ‘enough money to carry out all the functions you have as a department’, Mr Feeney replied: ‘That’s a good question. I would say ‘no although we are obviously doing the best we can with the resources we have.”

He later added: “The challenge we’ve had for the past few years has been the backlog resulting from Covid – we’ve had a very high number of applications through the system.”

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