Chorley council has improved customer service with a new system that allows residents to view and comment on planning applications online.
The council rolled out the system at the end of April, and said it has lowered postage costs, freed up staff time, and made it easier for residents to access and comment on applications.
Many councils have been putting planning applications online recently after government targets encouraged the move. The transformational government project, which encourages steps such as this, aims to make it easier for citizens to find the information they want.
Resources manager, Louise Taylor, said the need for storage at the council had been cut down, as well as costs of photo-copying and posting the planning applications. Since the system had been introduced, she added, staff had noticed fewer people coming into the council offices to view applications.
She said, "There is now access for customers to view the plans 24x7, rather than being restricted to using the council offices in Chorley between 9am and 5pm. It also cuts down on storage because you have not got rows of planning applications lying around."
The council used Rocc PDF Tools Integration package to implement the system. Adobe reader is used to view the application, and there is a measuring and mark-up tool enabling residents to scale the plans, work out distances and make comments on them.
Taylor said, "The government has been pushing for councils to introduce electronic planning services. We decided not to until we had a fully integrated system. One of the strengths of the system is the way that it is populated from the back-office software.
"The idea is to improve customer service."