Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Saturday, 12 September 2009 09:39 UK

Park praised for planning changes

Brecon Beacons
Jane Davidson visited Brecon Beacons National Park Authority

The Brecon Beacons National Park has been praised for the "significant improvements" to its planning service, but told that "big challenges" remain.

The park was forced to make changes to its planning department following a wave of criticism and a critical report.

But Environment Minister Jane Davidson said councillors and officers had worked hard in the last year.

A consultant was brought in to oversee and advise the authority in March 2008.

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


It led to Brecon and Radnorshire AM Kirsty Williams, a local councillor, planning consultants and developers all criticising the national park's planning department.

Meanwhile, the park's former chief executive Chris Gledhill left in December last year to "pursue a new career".

Since then, the park has implemented a new "planning structure", and appointed a new chief executive, John Cook.

Following a meeting at the national park, Ms Davidson said: " I am very pleased to be here today to be able to highlight the significant improvements which have been made in the authority's planning service.

"I would like to thank all the members and officers of the authority for their hard work and diligence in securing the improvements required in the planning service.

"I know that other authorities are already looking at what they can learn from your experience - and this is good."

But Ms Davidson said "big challenges" remained, not least in sustaining the improvements made.

Park chief executive John Cook said: "We have seen a huge improvement in the processing of applications, the determination rate, the reduction of the backlog and in staff morale."

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