Options to Tackle the Capacity Gap in Planning Services Event Highlights

Members and Officers in planning and related services from authorities across the East of England attended the event on the 4th March. Attendees heard examples of how councils are using innovation and new thinking to ensure the planning system is supporting growth across the region.


First on the agenda were Anna Graves, Chief Executive, Breckland Council and Mark Dally, Director, Capita who delivered a presentation on outsourcing services. They gave a detailed insight into how Breckland Council and Capita have turned the authority’s Planning Service around together, this successful partnership sees the council outsource the service but manage the contract.

Later on in the day the focus turned to degree apprenticeships. Phil Ridley, Head of Planning and Coastal Management, East Suffolk Council, explained how councils have the option to ‘grow their own talent’. Phil highlighted the apprenticeship process and the benefits to both the apprentice and employer. The scheme has enabled East Suffolk to have a cohort of technician apprentices and interns with neighbouring authorities, as well as moving staff up the ladder by accessing the new degree apprenticeship.

We were then delighted to hear from Adrian Gascoyne, Head of Place Services, about the option for councils to buy in expertise. Councils in the region are able to buy from Place Services which is part of Essex County Council. Their staff can undertake whole pieces of work or they can come and work with your team to add capacity.

There was a lot of useful discussion and sharing of ideas throughout the day. It was agreed in the panel session that there are people out there to fill posts but we in Local Government need to improve the way we engage potential and existing staff. Being able to help shape your locality is an amazing job; we have a call to action to improve the way we get that across to potential recruits and to keep developing existing staff so that they in turn can help us make the most of our places.