PLANNERS at Sandwell Council are celebrating after being named the best local planning authority in the country.

A team from the council was presented at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s 2014 Awards for Planning Excellence.

Judges recognised Sandwell for providing a pro-active planning service and example of best practice to other local planning authorities.

The team also was applauded for delivering successful regeneration projects in difficult economic and social circumstances.

Last year 86 per cent of major applications in Sandwell were determined within 13 weeks and 81 per cent of minor and 91per cent of all other applications were determined within eight weeks.

Councillor Ian Jones, cabinet member for jobs and economy, said: “Our planning service has a great reputation for getting things done.

"The team play a leading role in bringing developments across the borough forward and they rightly deserve this recognition.”