Liverpool City Council is introducing a new "business-friendly" service to deal with planning applications.
The council said changes follow a review of procedures and service standards in the planning service and are aimed at ensuring those who want to invest in the city have clear advice and quick access to the service.
Liverpool City Council said the changes taking place includes:
- Kevin Baker, covering north Liverpool, Nicola Robinson, south Liverpool, and Chris Ridland, for the city centre, being appointed in the planning service as "business champions". They will provide a first point of contact for business enquiries and feedback, and be able to point enquirers to the right place for advice
- Clearer guidance and information for business on the planning pages on the city council's website, including a dedicated point of access, with information tailored to business need. The council said the website also signposts other relevant services and partners to provide easy access for available information relating to planning, development and investing in the city
- A pre-application procedure which sets out a clear and consistent set of service standards and guidance to resolve any issues and prevent delays before the submission of a full planning application
- As part of this process, business enquiries will be allocated a dedicated case officer and the application will be dealt with through a "development team" approach.
- The pre-application process will be evaluated after six months with feedback from the business community
Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "I have listened to business leaders who tell me that there are ways in which we can operate so the specific needs of business are met to ensure we build on the successes of the past few years. We want to work with business to help bring investment and jobs to the city.
"We have to create the right conditions for businesses to start up and to thrive and as part of this we have looked at how our planning services can better engage with them.
"So we have introduced a pre-application service to help streamline the planning process and ensure a consistently high quality of service.
"Of course, the changes we are making do not mean we just say yes to every application. We need to have good quality design and appropriate developments. But, it can actually help business and if they are told at an early stage that their application will not be supported it can save them a lot of time and resources.
"What we are trying to do is to react to what businesses are telling us and provide a service with clear standards for both existing Liverpool companies and those who wish to invest in the city."
The council said the changes have been welcomed by members of the city's business community.
Gary Szilagy, partner at chartered surveyors Grantley Lowe LLP, said: "Having recently gained substantial heritage funding thanks to invaluable support and guidance from the city council's development control and conservation team, the proposals to give businesses and agents dedicated and prompt access to pre-application planning advice is great news for the success and growth of our city."
Liverpool City Council said the changes in the planning system is just one of the steps it is taking to improve the way is works with the business community. The council plans to hold focus groups to listen to views on the way forward and a programme of consultation with representatives from businesses aimed at publishing a mutually developed service charter for business in 2011.