Hundreds of residents plagued by delays in St Albans council planning department

Rob Maiella pictured at home

Rob Maiella pictured at home - Credit: Archant

A dad-of-two from St Albans, whose young family were hoping to benefit from a modest extension to their house over the summer, has spoken of his frustration with the district council’s delayed response to his planning application.

Rob Maiella, of Corder Close, is one of more than 260 people in the district who are still waiting for the council to determine whether or not their applications have been accepted or rejected - despite having been submitted more than eight weeks ago.

Rob, 45, told the council that he intended to extend a basement and a build a single-story extension to the rear of his house at the begining of May, hoping that the green light would be given and his builders could start work before July.

However, six months later, Rob has not received a determination either way. He said: “I’m not going for a major development. It’s just a small extension to my house – it’s a bog-standard home extension. We have now lost our builders who weren’t going to wait any more and I’m just so frustrated with the process.”

St Albans district council said that it aimed to deal with three our of every four (75 per cent) applications within “a reasonable time”, and that currently, the target was being met.

But Rob’s thinks that those applications which fail to be dealt with swiftly are relegated down the council’s list of priorities.

He said: “They seem to think, ‘oh, we’ve missed our target anyway - we’ll just leave it on the backburner,’ and the worst thing is that I know of people who have submitted planning applications well after me and have had them approved.

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“It is quite appalling. I have got lots of friends and family that I talk to, who have just built without planning permission. I play by the rules and I feel really let down.”

Tracy Harvey, head of planning at St Albans district council, said: “The council’s planning department is one of the busiest in the UK. Currently, there is a national shortage of experienced planning officers making it difficult to fill vacancies promptly. At the same time, planning applications have risen.”

Ms Harvey added that as of September, the council had a backlog of 261 applications and was implementing measures to reduce overdue applications, including appointing consultants and bringing in temporary staff. She also said existing staff would be working overtime.