Hertsmere Borough Council is to invest £90,000 in clearing a ‘backlog’ of planning applications.

Planning departments are expected to deal with ‘minor’ and householder applications within 56 days – and major applications within 91 days.

But a report to Hertsmere Borough Council’s executive earlier this month shows the council’s planning department has had 122 applications for more than 56 days.

Councillors on the executive panel have now agreed to set up a four-month project designed to clear the backlog.

In total, the executive heard, the department has 378 applications and pre-applications, which have yet to be determined – with the 11 ‘development management officers’ dealing with up to 61 cases each.

With plans to deliver 714 additional homes a year in the borough until 2036, the pressure on the department is set to increase.

But according to the officer’s report, once the department has cleared the ‘backlog’, officers will be able to focus more on pre-application advice – making the service more efficient and effective.

At the meeting of the executive on November 13, Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, responsible for planning, pointed to the plans to substantially boost homes in the borough and the need to clear the current backlog.

Labour Cllr Richard Butler highlighted Hertsmere’s location, next to London. He said it was important to look at how the council retained trained staff instead of them leaving to work in neighbouring London authorities.