Brandon Lewis has been critical of Councils suggesting they need to change the way they work, and could go a lot further in sharing management and delivery of planning services.
David Evans, the Society's Immediate Past President and former Director of Environment at West Dorset DC and Weymouth & Portland BC, told Planning magazine that larger shared teams also allows authorities to "retain some of the specialism necessary to deliver a good service".
Larger shared teams could also improve authorities' ability to recruit talent, Evans argues. Collaboration in this way, Evans added, would "widen the opportunity for staff development."
Evans said many councils across the country are making it work. East Dorset and Christchurch District Councils have a partnership agreement in place, while Weymouth & Portland Borough, West Dorset District and North Dorset District Councils all share their services, including planning. In both cases, councils are headed up by one chief executive and a number of strategic directors who alternate between the locations.
Evans added that different political make-ups can make councils less willing to work together, but stressed that this approach "can work across the political divide".