Councils struggle to process applications as planners jump ship to join private housebuilders.

Government housebuilding targets in the South-east are in danger of being missed because of a recruitment crisis in council planning departments, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute.

With tens of thousands of properties needed in the region, staff shortages in council planning offices are being exacerbated as private housebuilders ‘poach’ employees. The lure of higher pay is tempting many planning officers to leave councils just as applications are increasing, making it more difficult for local authorities to process them all. Some councils have been forced to make a temporary reduction in planning services in a bid to work through the backlog.

RTPI research shows that 13% of planning posts in London are vacant, with 17% of positions filled by agency staff.