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Public sector planners jump ship

PLANNING applications are facing further delays in the housing sector as a flood of local government officials join house builders.

The flow has increased since Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced a target of 141,000 new homes a year and workers head to the greater rewards of the private sector - causing delays to planning applications because of staff shortages.

Ken Pedder, planning application chairman at Surrey Heath Borough council, said: 'We have a backlog of planning applications due to a very serious shortage of workers and recently lost a number of senior planning officers to private consultants. It's a struggle.'

An HBF spokesman said: 'Working in local government can be overly challenging for planners.

'In a political context it has become very difficult because the planners' desires are frequently overruled by the local government's elected members.

'We don't want planners to join our industry at the expense of local authorities.

'We support an environment in which both sectors can benefit from skilled planners.'