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The building control, development control and conservation services provided by South Hams DC are good but prospect...
The building control, development control and conservation services provided by South Hams DC are good but prospects for improvement are uncertain, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the service two stars because it performs well in terms of speed, provides good value for money and has high customer satisfaction levels.

Bill Sanderson, assistant regional director (south) of the Audit Commission Inspection Service, said:

'The council have identified many actions to improve the service but need to focus on how these actions will generate service improvements to customers and what are the customers' priorities and needs.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- Experienced and knowledgeable staff

- Good guidance material produced by the development control and conservation service

- High quality and timely development

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- Some administration and management processes are inefficient

- Performance management systems are not being used as effectively as they could be in the service areas

- There is a resistance to change within parts of the service which inhibits innovation

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

- Give customers a better service by continuing to improve access to the service, improving service communications and co-ordination and maximising the use of IT

- Continue to drive improvement within the service by refining the council's action plan to identify customer priorities, resources required and create a capacity for improvement within the service area.

The service is responsible for determining planning and building regulations applications in connection with new development and also provides pre-application advice. The service is run as two separate departments, employing 29 staff in total with a gross budget of approx£1,069,000 in 2000/01.

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