To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery seeking adoption of a new Planning Enforcement Policy (attached as Appendix 2 to the report).
It was noted that following a question raised at the Council meeting on 16 July 2020, a meeting with the Leader of the Council, Area Planning Committee Chairman Councillor M S Heard and Officers had taken place to discuss the backlog of enforcement cases. At this meeting it had been agreed that Officers would look at bringing forward options and methods to reduce the backlog, including a review of the current Enforcement Policy (attached as Appendix 1 to the report).
Background information regarding planning enforcement was set out in the report along with the alterations proposed to the Enforcement Policy following its review. Members were advised it was anticipated that adoption of the new policy would improve the level of service provided. However in order to meet the targets within the new policy additional staffing resource was required and this had been requested as part of the 2021 / 22 Budget Cycle growth report considered by this Committee on 19 November 2020. It was noted that this would form part of the budget considered by the Council in February 2021.
The Chairman proposed that the recommendations set out in the report be agreed. This was duly seconded.
A lengthy debate ensued. In response to a number of questions and comments the following information was provided:
· Ward Members were consulted prior to enforcement notices being served. The Lead Specialist Place advised he was happy to provide details of number of enforcement notices served in a Ward for Members.
· It was noted that the flow chart detailed in Appendix 1 related to current policy and the revised policy (Appendix 2) did not contain this.
· Most enforcement cases were confidential in order to protect individuals;
· If a complaint had been raised by a Parish Council, Officers would provide the Parish Council with an update on progress.
· Although it had been agreed that the Area Planning Committees would not receive regular enforcement reports it was noted that the Chairman of an Area Planning Committee could call a special meeting to discuss planning enforcement, if it was felt appropriate.
In response to a comment made by another Member Councillor C Swain referred to the need for a regular enforcement report. He proposed that quarterly enforcement reports be made to the Performance, Governance and Audit Committee (PGA), detailing the category of the complaint and the nature of the Council’s response. This proposal was duly seconded. In response, the Lead Specialist Place raised some concern regarding what information the report would provide. Following further discussion, the seconder for Councillor Swain’s proposal withdrew their support. It was agreed that Councillor Swain would contact the Chairman of the PGA outside of this meeting to suggest that it may be something they wish to bring forward.
The Chairman then put the recommendations as set out in the report and upon a vote being taken these were agreed.
(i) That the inclusion within the 2021 / 22 Budget Cycle growth requests the provision of additional staffing resources, be noted.
(ii) That the Planning Enforcement Policy (attached as APPENDIX 4 to these Minutes) be adopted.