Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Sunday, 21 September 2008 09:06 UK

Complaints spark changes at park

Brecon Beacons (picture: Ken Jones)
The planning process is to be changed at the national park

A national park has taken the first step towards improving its troubled planning department.

Brecon Beacons National Park Authority is aiming to cut the time taken to process applications following claims it was taking up to eight months.

The authority has faced heavy criticism in recent months over its handling of an application for a caravan park.

Its chief executive was suspended on 15 September while an investigation into its management is carried out.

The new planning system called 1APP will be introduced on 1 October.

Park officials have met with planning agents, major landowners and developers to discuss the process.

Hopefully, it will minimise the risk that we will have to go back to applicant
Park head of planning, Chris Morgan

In March, companies claimed they were losing money because the national park was taking up to eight months to process applications, instead of between eight and 13 weeks.

Chris Morgan, the park authority's head of planning, said the new system would help developers and residents.

He added: "This means that this authority will have all the information it needs in order to determine the application in a shorter period of time.

"Hopefully, it will minimise the risk that we will have to go back to applicant to ask for more information, therefore reducing the amount of time it takes us to reach a decision."

He advised applicants, though, to read the park's new planning guidelines.

Tim Organ, who with his son Sam runs design consultants CO2, met with the park officials at a meeting held over planning concerns.

He said: "Some of the initiatives the park is introducing, such as lowering the time applications are dealt with, bringing its system in line with a national strategy and a new sustainable guide, are good.

"But I still have some reservations about the culture of negativity in the planning department, particularly towards architecture, as opposed to building."

On 15 September, Mr Gledhill was suspended for up to two months while an investigation is carried out into the way the authority is managed.

The park said the suspension was "not an indication of wrong-doing".

Earlier this year, an inquiry found "serious failings" with a planning application for a caravan park at Gilestone Farm in Talybont-on-Usk, near Brecon.


SEE ALSO
National park chief is suspended
15 Sep 08 |  Mid Wales
Adviser to oversee park planning
26 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales
Park inquiry papers with police
14 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales
Planning delays 'costing firms'
13 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales
Calls to axe park planning power
26 Feb 08 |  Mid Wales

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