A third of staff at Birmingham City Council’s planning department will be made redundant as a result of the slowdown in regeneration projects.
Seventy-nine out of 272 jobs are to be axed as the unit struggles to close a £1.4 million funding gap caused by a collapse in planning application fees.
The planning and regeneration functions will be amalgamated into one slimmed-down department, and all existing employees have been told they must re-apply for their jobs if they want to remain at the council.
Planning Committee chairman Peter Douglas Osborn described the decision as a “tragedy” for professional officers who he said had imagined they would spend the rest of their career with the local authority.
But Coun Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) said the cuts were inevitable given the city’s perilous financial situation.
Council leaders expect to have to cut budgets by about £330 million over the next four years as Birmingham’s contribution to erasing the public sector spending deficit. But even without Government-imposed savings, the department finds itself deep in financial difficulties.
Coun Douglas Osborn said: “A lot of people have invested in training and set their life out in front of them. Now some people will find themselves out of work through no fault of their own.
“What I would say is that we will get out of this and come through on the other side. I hesitate to say there are sometimes advantages in having to do things like this, but there will be improved career opportunities.”
Regeneration director Waheed Nazir said: “By merging these services together I believe we can deliver a more focused, efficient and multi-skilled service, removing duplication and delivering better value for money.
“The future model will see a number of area-based, multi-disciplinary teams set up to support priorities of the council such as the Big City Plan and provide a single point of contact and support to developers, stakeholders and the public alike..
The reorganisation will see the number of full-time equivalent posts within the department reduced from 272 to 193.