An ongoing failure to fill key planning and development positions is starting to cause delays on major projects.
An ongoing failure to fill key planning and development positions is starting to cause delays on major projects. fizkes

Failure to attract planning staff stalls Gympie council work

AN ONGOING failure to attract staff for several high profile planning and development jobs at Gympie Regional Council has helped drive a blow-out in the number of delayed projects.

The council's latest quarterly report reveals this staffing struggle within the Development and Compliance and Planning Strategy and Major Projects departments has contributed to almost half the council's operational goals being "delayed or revised".

"Efforts to recruit experienced professional staff to fill existing vacant senior strategic planning has proven unsuccessful to date," the report says.

The inability to fill these jobs "is placing additional load on the remaining members of the team and is now beginning to impact service levels and deadlines".

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The positions have been vacant for more than six months; the April quarterly report said some of the positions available were already in the middle of their second crack at hiring "the necessary experienced, qualified candidates to fill the remaining vacancies within the department".

"... these challenges illustrate the fact that the market for experienced planning professionals continues to be very tight and extremely competitive."

 

Gympie town hall
Gympie town hall Craig Warhurst

The lack of staffing is not the only issue at play in the delays, though.

A reliance on external funding for projects like the Youth Precinct and Upper Mary St as well as the length of community consultation on others have also conspired to create the "higher than usual" amount of stalled work.

However the report says some of these delayed works like the Mary Valley and River to Rail trails were within one month of completion at writing.

The council says future operational plans might need to focus on activities "over which it has full control when deciding what to include in the plan".