A GOVERNMENT grant of £89,000 is helping to boost the performance of Darlington Borough Council's planning team.

The "planning delivery grant" is a three-year programme of financial support for local authorities across the country. Darlington received more than the minimum grant of £75,000 for the first year, with the prospect of more funding for the next two years if it can demonstrate improved performance.

The funding will provide resources to help planners achieve all Government targets and speed up the review of the borough's Local Plan.

John Buxton, the council's director for development and the environment, said: "The award is based on our performance to date. The fact that it is substantially more than other councils have received reflects favourably on the hard work of all involved in delivering the planning service over the past year.

"Our priority will be to recruit extra staff to help us deal with the very high number of planning applications we receive and deliver an improved service to our customers. The funding will also help us to computerise more planning records and plans and make more information available through the council's website."