ISSUES in Eden District Council's planning department are symptomatic of "endemic" failings, a councillor has said.

The council's Planning Services Development officer has stepped down this week, the move follows further backlash surrounding plans for Voreda House.

Eden Council's leadership has submitted a planning application to redevelop the building on Portland Place in Penrith, creating the UK's first zero carbon council office space.

The more recent version of plans for Voreda House was approved by the council's planning panel on the third time of asking but anger has followed the move.

Penrith Town Councillor Jonathan Davies has requested that the Secretary of State call-in the plans, accusing council bosses of "playing musical chairs" with the planning committee to get their own application approved.

He cited a number of issues in the development's protracted lifespan including the lack of a contractor for the approved plans.

Following the resignation of the council's planning officer, Cllr Davies said: "Right now Eden Council is in a hell of a mess with planning. The whole planning department is being administrated by other consultants working for the council."

He said that the council has been hit by a wave of resignations.

"These issues are endemic in Eden Council, a lot of staff just want out. The council is being run now on expensive consultants. The chief executive at this moment in time is getting paid more than the Prime Minister."

Cllr Davies said: "Eden Council is just on a wing and a prayer. The focus on Voreda House is distracting from the focus on Eden Council's delivery."

Leader of the council Virginia Taylor said that the council is not struggling to meet statutory obligations. The Liberal Democrat leader said that the planning department is simply suffering from a national trend.

Cllr Taylor said: "There's no disarray involved. There's a problem with too many applications and too few staff to fill the jobs nationally."

The leader denied claims from opposition groups that the Voreda House application has been pushed through.

"There was no manipulation of the planning committee. There was a change of composition of the council following a by-election."

Changes then have to be made to make committees politically balanced.

Cllr Taylor said: "I'm very careful not to discuss planning applications with our members because planning is a quasi-judicial process and it must not be political, you can't whip your people on the planning committee."