Planning Team customer service standards

We will:

  • regularly ask our customers for feedback about our customer service
  • use customer feedback to help shape the services we deliver
  • ensure our staff are trained and competent to deliver our services
  • ensure all staff are trained in customer service

General principles

We will:

  • provide easy to follow online guidance to assist you in making a planning application, commenting on a planning application or to make use of the other services offered by the team
  • always have trained staff dealing with your planning application, and make all decisions in line with the council’s constitution
  • provide a detailed pre-application advice service (fees apply), and aim to respond within 21 days
  • give all applicants the name and direct contact details of the specific officer dealing with your planning application
  • provide you with detailed advice and 10 working days to ‘make-good’ any applications that we find are invalid on receipt
  • ensure that all new valid applications are available to view online every week, together with all decisions issued during the previous week
  • engage with you actively if you experience any problems with your planning application and ensure that officers are accountable for explaining decisions and responding to any concerns you raise
  • respond to all enquiries submitted to (this is the best way to contact the team with general questions) within 2 working days, and provide you with a named contact in the team

In addition, the planning team work closely within the council’s adopted 7-point customer service standards framework. We are proud of the service offered but are always seeking to improve this for our customers wherever possible. See the 7 standards below to see examples of how we have changed the service already, and details of further improvements we are working on right now.

accordion | Planning Team customer service standards

7-point customer service standards

Standard 1: Listen, understand and respond to our customer needs

  • free-to-access duty planner service operational 2 days per week (Tuesday and Friday)
  • automated responses to confirm receipt of ‘Planning Customer Care’ email enquiries
  • recruitment has focused on specific skills/knowledge to enhance our professional knowledge base

Standard 2: Work with partners to support our customers

  • weekly highways or drainage meetings with Lincolnshire County Council
  • partnership meeting with Environment Agency being established
  • partners involved in reviewing our pre-application advice guide
  • professional planning training provided to our Members and Parish Councils
  • developer and agent forums are held with the development industry
  • West Lindsey District Council’s website hosts information directing customers to additional support, services and advice

Standard 3: Help customers to help themselves

  • improved links to the Planning Portal (The majority of planning applications are submitted online via the Planning Portal)
  • expanded and improved our range of detailed guidance and web pages
  • continuing to provide the duty planner service
  • delivered extensive neighbourhood planning support directly to over 40 parish areas
  • dealt with 100 formal complaints received in line with the council’s procedures
  • enhanced ‘self-serve’ in addition to face-to-face/telephone service options
  • developed the council’s pre-application service to assists customers to front load their application and decide whether or not to proceed to the application stage
  • reviewed all of our IT systems and all letters and notices issued by the team to make these easier to understand

Standard 4: Provide services to our customers which they can rely on and trust

  • invited the Planning Advisory Service to undertake a Peer Review of our services
  • full audit of the service, resulting in a rating of ‘substantial assurance’ (Nov 2017) for the team (findings published and promoted via press release)
  • exceptional performance published by Department for Communities and Local Government
  • consistent appeal outcomes published online and reported to planning committee

Standard 5: Seek and use feedback opportunities to learn, develop and grow

  • this is now built into complaints review process
  • compliments received in 2020 to 2021 significantly exceeded formal complaints
  • very few planning service complaints (most are regarding objection to a decision)
  • all officers are expected to be involved in complaints relating to their cases or work area
  • officers have been, and will be, involved in delivering workshops/training to members/parish councils
  • 1-2-1’s include a review of any cases going out of time (this is also reviewed by management)
  • service/business plan to carefully plan and develop the team in the year ahead

Standard 6: Communicate clearly and simply

  • positive reviews received for recent publications (Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) / Section 106 documents)
  • communications plan for service programmed for 2018/19
  • increased use of social media/press releases in 2017/18
  • customer champion in team, established as a key part of their role
  • General Data Protection Regulations are being incorporated providing transparency on how we use customer data

Standard 7: Treat customers fairly and respectfully

  • reviewed protocols and delegations in 2017 to ensure consistency of decisions
  • published guidance explaining what we can and cannot take into account in planning (training is also provided to members/parishes on this)
  • increased accountability, whereby staff deal directly with comments/complaints
contact | Planning

West Lindsey District Council
Guildhall, Marshall's Yard
DN21 2NA
United Kingdom