Agenda item

Agenda item

The Effectiveness of Planning Enforcement

Report of the Head of Planning and Infrastructure


The Head of Planning and Infrastructure presented the report to Members.


After concerns being shared on the staffing of the team, clarity was given on the recruitment issues and the introduction of a Senior Team Leader post.  It was confirmed that this post was not replacing three others as it seemed, the current three agency posts were not full-time posts and in some cases were only working a few hours a week.  It was also reported that part of the review with the Planning Advisory Service was to look at staffing resource for the team.

 The discussion consideredthe key open cases, and it was confirmed that the majority were in relation to gypsy/traveller sites.  A Member felt that the harm scoring of cases was useful but seemed to be discretionary and bias in some instances.  Several Members commented on the urgent need to manage gypsy/traveller sites, this would then help with the caseloads.  The Head of Planning and Infrastructure recognised the need in this area and stressed the complex nature of the matter.  However, he confirmed that work was currently being undertaken as part of the Local Plan review and would be taken through the Local Plan Committee in due course.


A Member referred to the types of breaches investigated as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report and commented that the numbers were misleading as he was aware of one case that was actually a high number of instances within it.  However, the Member was happy with the work being done by officers on this case and the communication that was now in place.  He stressed that communication between officers and Members was key, even if no action could be taken on a matter.


During discussions Members shared their frustrations of times when stricter enforcement action could have been taken and it was a shared opinion that more prosecutions and fines would deter people from building without permission.  Members were hopeful that the service would be able to move forward following the service review.  The officer time required to undertake thorough investigations into breaches was acknowledged and it was suggested that this time be charged for.  In response to a question, the Head of Planning and Infrastructure explained that legal advice was always sought on the right action to take on each case and it was confirmed that the current enforcement policy would also be reviewed by the Planning Advisory Service.


A question of clarity was asked in relation to the status of travellers once they were settled on a site and whether the special considerations still applied.  It was confirmed that there was another caselocallywhich was considering this matter and officers were awaiting the outcomes, however it had taken several years to get to the current position.


Officers were questioned as to the use of drones by the service to assist with obtaining evidence if access to a site could not be gained.  The Head of Planning and Infrastructure stated that drones had been used in the past and that legal advice was currently being sought into further permissions of use as well as obtaining access to sites.  It was agreed that an update would be provided in the next quarterly report to Planning Committee.


A Member suggested that a report be considered at a future meeting in relation to finding sites for the gypsy and traveller community, as it was felt it went beyond enforcement and there could be more to do to help.   However, it was agreed that this would be a matter for the Local Plan Committee.


It was moved by Councillor J Geary, seconded by Councillor T Eynon and




1)      The intention to engage the Planning Advisory Service to review the Planning Enforcement Team be noted.


2)      The intention to take a report back to Community Scrutiny Committee in Autumn 2023 to update on progress be noted.


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