The planning system requires the council to find a balance between two often opposing strands of public interest:
Significant changes within society (e.g. population growth and people living more independently, longer and in smaller households) mean that the number and type of buildings we need in Thurrock will change over time, particularly given our location within the heart of the country's largest regeneration area.
Although the current economic downturn has slowed the pace of these changes, it will not alter them fundamentally. Once economic recovery is achieved the demand for change will only increase more quickly. In order to assist in stimulating economic prosperity, Thurrock Council must be proactive in its approach to considering development proposals.
The underlying objective of development management is to promote high quality and sustainable new development and to manage the development process with this outcome in mind.
The primary role of planning should not be to stop development happening - it should foster the right development in the right places, enabling development that will lead to improvements in the social, environmental and economic well-being of the area. It is important that we work to this purpose.
Our development management approach has altered the way in which both officers and elected members work within the planning applications system. It has also changed how we work with developers, the community, other statutory bodies and infrastructure providers. Our ways of working reflect a desire to make planning a tool for achieving better outcomes rather than a test of adequacy. In managing the delivery of sustainable development, both officers and members take an active role during the shaping of plans.
Development management involves a change in the way we work and think. This change has already begun and is delivering outcomes. Notably, in 2011/12 our efficiency in decision-making puts us within the top 5% of planning authorities in the country, a matter of significant importance to developers and those looking to inward invest in the borough.
The Development Management team's ambition is to provide an efficient, high performing and customer-focussed service, which works at the front-line in delivering the council's regeneration ambitions. In particular the team's aim is to work effectively with partners and the community to enable the delivery of the council's priorities to encourage and promote job creation and economic prosperity and to ensure a safe, clean and green environment.