Greenwich Council has been forced to hire contractors due to the repeated failures of its own planning department.

The council fast-tracked bringing in Regional Enterprise Ltd to deal with the backlog of planning applications at an estimated cost of £50,000.

This was due to the "urgency of the work" and the "reputational damage" caused by the slow planning process and failures.

High-profile planning mishaps have damaged the council's reputation recently, including the failed attempt to block another betting shop being set up in Plumstead High Street.

The Planning Inspectorate labelled the council's reasoning behind its attempts to block Willaim Hill setting up another shop as “bereft of objective appraisal and substantial evidence” and that it had committed "abject and repeated failures".

From September 2014 to September 2016, Greenwich Council failed to respond to at least 35 per cent of non-major planning applications within eight weeks.

In the council report detailing the decision, it said the "number of complaints and members’ enquiries at this time is also a reflection of where the service is and reflects the delays and frustrations that service users are experiencing with their applications".

Reasons cited for the planning department's poor performance include historical absence of team manager, inexperienced officers, churn of staff, too large caseloads to properly manage, an absence of performance management, and an absence of good practice which leads to officers doing their own thing and duplicating work.

Councillor Matt Hartley, leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “Labour councillors have failed, failed and failed again to sort out problems in the planning department – and now the Greenwich taxpayer is footing the bill.

"This desperate move to bring in external consultants is yet another example of the waste of public funds that residents have had to put up with for far too long.

“We need an urgent review into what has gone wrong, and a clear plan for how Labour councillors intend to prevent a repeat of the delays and mistakes we have seen over the past year.”

Greenwich Council has been contacted for comment.