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The development and building control services provided by Mid Sussex DC are good but have uncertain prospects of im...
The development and building control services provided by Mid Sussex DC are good but have uncertain prospects of improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the services two stars because they are of good quality with clear publicised standards. People are very satisfied with both services, and staff are well motivated and committed.

Steven Shuttleworth, managing inspector, southern region, said: 'The council is making improvements to the service which will help its customer focus.

But it needs to be clearer about what key changes need to be undertaken to further improve the services to the standard of top performing councils, and to ensure that necessary resources are available.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

The council has recently enhanced its website to provide a range of planning information.

The council has received a number of design awards and has a commitment to quality.

The council works closely with other partners to make sure that planning decisions take into account wider community aims such as reducing crime and providing affordable housing.

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

It is not clear what the specific aims are for the services and staff and customers are not involved in setting aims and targets.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

Improve the customer focus of the service

Communicate better with regular service users

Speed up decision making and maintain quality

Development control involves the processing of planning applications, enforcing planning controls and responding to planning appeals. Including enforcement, the service employs 28 staff and the net cost of the service for 2002/03 is£564,000.

Building control includes the processing of building regulation applications, resolving dangerous structures, and carrying out of enforcement. The service employs 13 staff, and the net cost of the service for 2002/03 is£176,000.

Copies of the report are available from Mid Sussex District Council or on the Audit Commission website here.

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