Public performance reports

Planning and building standards

The Council Plan Connect, outlines our objectives for 2017-22. Connect Priorities should not be seen in isolation, they interact with each other and as we achieve success in one, we move closer to success in others. In delivering our vision to ‘improve the quality of life of everyone in South Lanarkshire’ our Priorities show how our work links with our partners including our Community Planning Partners. 

For daily updates, stories and what’s going on in your area, visit our information and news website South Lanarkshire View.

Each year we produce Annual Performance Spotlights which summarise how we have performed in achieving our Connect Priorities. To complement these, we have created a suite of individual Public Performance Reports which focus on key areas of council business. This report outlines the performance of our Environmental Health and Trading Standards Services and how this links to our objective to work with communities and partners to promote high quality, thriving and sustainable communities.

The future development of the South Lanarkshire area is a key responsibility for the council. We ensure that development takes place in the right place, at the appropriate time, in a sustainable way and in the best interest of the public. Planning and Building Standards achieves this by preparing and monitoring development plans, considering planning applications and enforcing planning legislation. The health, safety and welfare of people in and around these new or existing developments is also vital and this is secured through the assessment of building warrants and certificates of completion in relation to the construction and demolition of buildings and dealing with dangerous structures.

Supply of available land for housing  Target 5 years

What this means This indicator shows the years’ supply of land available for new housing across South Lanarkshire.
Why this matters One of the main responsibilities of the Planning service is to ensure that there is enough housing land available to deliver development within South Lanarkshire. Supply of land for housing should be maintained, with at least five years’ effective land being available at all times – this is our target. 
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 5.8 years 6.9 years 6.7 years No
Scotland N/A  N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service

The annual housing land analysis for 2020-21 shows that there was a very small decrease in the years effective supply remaining. This was due to a significant increase in activity by housing developers during the year. Nevertheless, a five-year housing land supply is being maintained.

Number of housing units approved No target set

What this means This indicator identifies how many actual housing units have been granted planning permission across South Lanarkshire.
Why this matters The development of housing is a key part of the economy and can be used as an indicator of an area’s prosperity and attractiveness. Providing new housing of the right type at the right place can encourage people to locate or stay in the area. 
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19  2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 1,458

 1,332

1,232 No
Scotland N/A N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service The number of houses approved in 2020-21 was slightly lower than the previous year. Despite the pandemic, house completions and starts across South Lanarkshire was maintained across all four housing market areas. There has been development of several smaller sites in the Clydesdale area which gives some degree of choice and flexibility to the smaller rural settlements. The Community Growth Areas throughout South Lanarkshire continue to be developed at a steady rate of output which shows the attractiveness of the area as a place to live.

Planning applications approved as a percentage of total number of planning applications received – 95%

What this means This indicator sets out the rate of approval for planning applications as a percentage of total applications received.
Why this matters A high planning application approval rate indicates that planning officers are communicating well with planning applicants before an application is submitted and throughout the processing stage, in order to see applications through to their successful approval.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 98.4% 97.5% 97.8% Yes
Scotland 93.7% 94.2% 94.5%
How we have performed in improving this public service

In 2020-21, 97.8% of planning applications were approved, which is a slight increase on the previous year. This figure remains above the annual target and is higher than the Scottish average and demonstrates the commitment of the Planning Service to seek a positive outcome for applicants and ensure high quality outcomes for the Council area.

Major developments – average number of weeks to decision – Target 50 weeks

What this means This indicator sets out the average time taken by the Planning service to process planning applications for major developments.
Why this matters This indicator measures the efficiency of the council’s planning application process. The Planning service has a statutory four month period in which to deal with a planning application for a major or national development. However, the complexities of these types of planning applications can mean that this timescale is not met.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 45.1 weeks 38.3 weeks 77.4 weeks No
Scotland 32.5 weeks 33.5 weeks 41.3 weeks
How we have performed in improving this public service The increase is attributable to a large increase in time taken to determine housing (major) applications (from 34.8 weeks to 130.9 weeks) in particular a complex masterplan application in the East Kilbride CGA from 2011. This was partly delayed due to the economic downturn in the market at the time, with the developer not keen to progress matters due to it being unviable. Other categories of major applications were determined in similar times to last year.

Local developments (householder) – average number of weeks to decision – Target 7 weeks

What this means This indicator sets out the average time taken by the Planning service to process the planning applications for householder developments.
Why this matters This indicator measures the efficiency of the council’s planning application process. The Planning service has a statutory two month period in which to deal with a local planning application.
  Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2019-20 Are we improving?
Our performance and how we compare SLC 7.6 weeks 8.3 weeks 9.1 weeks No
Scotland 7.2 weeks 7.3 weeks 8.1 weeks
How we have performed in improving this public service The time taken to process householder applications increased in 2020-21. This is mainly due to a notable increase in the number of householder applications received during the second half of 2020 and continuing into 2021. Nevertheless, in quarter four nearly 35% more householder applications were determined than in the same quarter in 2019-20. The requirement to deal with an increased volume of applications has resulted in the increase in average time taken.

Local developments (non-householder) – average number of weeks to decision – Target 11 weeks 

What this means This indicator sets out the average time taken by the Planning service to process the planning applications for local developments (non-householder).
Why this matters This indicator measures the efficiency of the council’s planning application process. The Planning service has a statutory two month period in which to deal with a local planning application.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 14.2 weeks 20.0 weeks 18.8 weeks Yes
Scotland 10.7 weeks 10.9 weeks 12.4 weeks
How we have performed in improving this public service

The average timescale for determining local (non-householder) applications in 2020-21 was better than the previous year despite the challenges and delays resulting from Covid-19. However, the figure remains significantly over the target of 11 weeks. 

Number of breaches of planning legislation identified/resolved – No target set

What this means The Planning service monitors the number of breaches of planning legislation reported and the number of these cases that are resolved. Where a breach of planning legislation is identified, the Planning service will attempt to respond to this without having to take formal action - either by having the owner agree to ‘undo’ the work or by asking them to submit a retrospective application for works which can be approved. 
Why this matters The activity outlined below shows that the Planning service is using its enforcement powers to make sure that everyone stays within planning law and the conditions of their planning permission. 
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC

198 identified

148 resolved

202 identified

124 resolved

320 identified

179 resolved

Yes
Scotland N/A N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service This reflects the significant 58.4% increase in the number of cases reported during 2020/21 which, combined with a vacancy in the enforcement team between September 2020 and January 2021 and the inability to carry out site visits for a significant period of the year, has resulted in a backlog of cases. The majority of new cases have involved householder development (reflecting homeowners extending or improving their property during the pandemic) and the start-up of new businesses/diversification of existing as the economy started to open up again. The number of cases resolved has improved however it has not kept pace with the amount of enquiries received.

Percentage of Building Warrant applications receiving initial assessment within 20 working days -Target 95%

What this means

A building warrant is a legal procedure that must be followed. This is to make sure that any proposed building work meets current building regulations. The following results show the percentage of applications assessed for compliance with building warrant regulation requirements within the 20 day target.

Why this matters When our Building Standards service grants permission for work to be done, it issues a building warrant. This indicator shows how efficiently the Building Standards service administers the building warrant process, with the service aiming to reduce the average time it takes for customers to obtain a building warrant.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 63% 89% 95% Yes
Scotland N/A  N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service In 2020-21, we responded to 95% of requests for building warrants within 20 working days. This is an improvement on the previous year.

Percentage of requests for completion certificates responded to within three working days - Target 95%

What this means

The certificate of completion states that the applicant has carried out work in accordance with the building warrant and approved plans. The following indicator shows the percentage of completion certificate submissions which the Building Standards service responded to within three working days. 

Why this matters This indicator shows how efficiently our Building Standards service administers the completion certificate process which includes inspection of work and acceptance of completion certificates.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 67% 62% 77% Yes
Scotland N/A N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service In 2020-21, we responded to 77% of requests for completion certificates within three working days. While this figure remains below target it is an improvement on previous years and still reflects the decision to prioritize other areas of service delivery such as the assessment of new building warrant applications (see indicator above).

Percentage satisfaction with the Planning Service - Target 90%

What this means

The Planning service undertakes a customer satisfaction survey throughout the year. This questionnaire is issued to planning applicants and agents appointed by planning applicants (including consultants and architectural firms).

Why this matters As well as measuring the efficiency of the planning application process, it is also important to know how satisfied people are with the quality of the Planning service.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC 89% 86% N/A N/A
Scotland  N/A N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service

Due to poor response rates in terms of the number of surveys completed during 2020-21 the Planning survey process it’s currently under review, therefore no reliable information is available for 2020-21.

Customer Service Excellence accreditation for the Planning service was renewed during the year, for a sixth consecutive year.

Percentage satisfaction with the Buildings Standards service - Target 90%

What this means The Building Standards service also undertakes its own customer satisfaction survey throughout the year. This questionnaire is issued to building warrant applicants and the agents appointed by these applicants (including consultants and architectural firms).
Why this matters As with the above indicator, this indicator is a measure of the quality of our Building Standards service.
Our performance and how we compare Comparator 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Are we improving?
SLC N/A N/A N/A N/A
Scotland N/A N/A N/A
How we have performed in improving this public service

During 2020-21 the format of collecting data to feed into the Building Standards survey process was amended, however this amended process resulted in a poor number of returns and as a result no reliable information is available for 2020/21.

However, a national customer satisfaction process is undertaken by the Scottish Government and the results for 2020-21 give the Building Standards service a score of 8.4 out of 10 against a national average of 7.1.

 

Customer Service Excellence accreditation for the Building Standards service was renewed during the year, for a seventh consecutive year.

We will take forward the following key areas for improvement:

  • Local Forum: Subject to restrictions being lifted it is intended to re-introduce a Local Forum with agents and other key stakeholders. This will be attended by both Planning and Building Standards officers. It is intended this year to seek views on how developers can contribute to the Council’s climate change and sustainability agenda. As an alternative an online meeting will be explored.
  • Customer Service Excellence: Prepare a submission for re-assessment of Customer Service Excellence accreditation. The key action this year will be to address the three areas of partial compliance noted in the assessment of the Service in order to achieve full compliance and to reaffirm CSE accreditation.
  • Service review: Carry out a review of existing procedures for assessing planning applications to identify ways in which the process can be streamlined. This will include consideration of benchmarking with other authorities. Staff resources to be kept under review with opportunities to add to the establishment including the employment of additional graduate posts within the Planning Services to be explored
  • Covid19 review: Consider the impact of the restrictions on working practices during the period of lockdown and assess whether procedures need to be updated in the event of future events. This will also consider whether changes introduced in 2020/21 can be retained and/or amended. Future working practices including the location of the workforce will also be explored.
  • Digital planning: Continue to review and develop essential IT systems, including consideration of mobile working solutions. Consider amendments to processes and new software/hardware to address legislative change and the implementation of the Scottish Government’s digital transformation programme.

South Lanarkshire Council Local Development Plan

The existing South Lanarkshire Local Development Plan (SLLDP) was adopted by the council on 9th April 2021 and contains the planning policies which provide the basis for assessing and determining planning applications, and ensuring that the amount of land needed to deliver housing and employment within South Lanarkshire is identified. The plan also includes detailed policies on helping tackle climate change, protect and enhance the natural and built environment, assess applications for renewable energy and waste, and support town centres.

Planning Performance Framework

The service also prepares an annual service improvement plan - Planning Performance Framework which is submitted to the Scottish Government. This details how our Planning service is performing, including:
• speed of decision-making
• certainty of timescales, process and advice
• delivery of good quality development
• project management
• clear communications and open engagement
The framework measures the quality of our Planning service and is used to identify and encourage ongoing improvements. Feedback from the Scottish Government on the Council’s Planning Performance Framework 2020-21 has been provided and highlights that our Planning service is performing well for 11 of the 13 indicators against which the service is measured, with two areas (both related to decision making timescales) requiring more substantial improvement.

Planning Performance Statistics

In addition to the above, a range of other performance results in respect of planning applications are reported to the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis by our Planning service. This comprehensive suite of Planning Authority Performance Statistics can be viewed on the Scottish Government website. 

Resource Plans are prepared each year by all council Resources to outline the key developments they intend to take forward in the year. Performance and actions relating to economic development and regeneration can be found in the Community and Enterprise Resource Plan.

Twice a year, performance reports are presented to council committees on progress against the Resource Plans. In addition, reports detailing progress against the Council Plan Connect Priorities are prepared.

More information on our objectives can be found in the Council Plan Connect and also the Annual Performance Spotlights.

Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) allows councils to work together, to use performance information in a way which will help understand variations, share knowledge, expertise and good practice, with a view to making improvements. At the core of the framework is an agreed suite of performance indicators. We report the results for these indicators, over time, on the website. Additionally, you can compare our LGBF results with other councils' using the mylocalcouncil tool. Not all local authorities are alike and so family groups of eight ‘similar’ councils have been set up for comparison purposes. Workshops take place throughout the year to discuss the indicators and results – South Lanarkshire Council is actively involved in these discussions.

The information contained within this report reflects the position based on the data available at the time of publication (January 2022)