Planning Enforcement principles
The Assistant Director (Planning) provided the Committee with a presentation on the basic Planning Enforcement principles.
A successful planning service consists of three components:
· Visionary plan-making which sets out the policies and proposals for the area
· Efficient and effective development management which applies those local and national policies in the determination of planning applications
· Well-resourced and effective enforcement
Paragraph 59 of the National Planning Policy Framework July 2021 states that effective enforcement is important to maintain public confidence in the planning system.
There are a number of Acts that relate to this including the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. We also have to have regard to other legislations and in particular:
· Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
· Data Protection Act 2018
There are various penalties and a lot of them are fines. We can have Proceeds of Crime when you have a Landlord who has a HMO and they are renting it out and they don’t have permission but are earning thousands of pounds. You should not earn from something which is a crime. And there is also imprisonment.
Effective enforcement is important to tackle breaches of planning control which would otherwise have unacceptable impact on the amenity of the area; to maintain the integrity of the decision-making process and to help ensure that public acceptance of the decision-making is maintained.
The Enforcement investigation process has been simplified to consist of 11 steps and these can be found in the presentation.
The full presentation can be viewed on the link below:
Members raised a number of points below and the Assistant Director (Planning) responded:
· Sometimes we have a problem on Step 8 of the process with expediency. Is there a definition of what is expedient and what isn’t? Following on from that if you get to step 11 why go back to step 8, why not go back to step 9? The Assistant Director (Planning) responded that expediency is very much about planning judgement when you look at the policies at government level and local level, the likelihood of it being granted on appeal and if it is worth going through that process. If you decide it is expedient then you might go back and look at different mechanics to deliver that outcome. If you got action and it isn’t effective the point of going back is expedient, there may be a reason it wasn’t effective in the first place so you have to go back to consider if it is expedient to do it that way or look at it another way
· The Chair advised it is about the definition of harm and whether it is expedient and this is where Member input is important
· Guidelines on why something is expedient and why something isn’t expedient to proceed with would be helpful. The Chair advised that this will form a document which will have those steps in a way to show that
· The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that we would like a list of published criteria where everyone understands the thought processes, it is transparent and you understand and can see how we are judging
· We need to have effective communication. We need to look at how Members are the golden thread through the processes of communication and the role of Members in dissemination of information through the media and that takes a long time. As members we should be able to intervene and say this is where the council currently is and in a couple of weeks we can update. The Assistant Director (Planning) responded that we haven’t been as strong as we could have been. There has been times when we have focused on the mechanics of doing it but sometimes it is in the best interests not to have information in the public domain
· A Member asked if it would be possible that if an issue arises in a Ward that the Ward Members are informed out of courtesy and there is a point of communication for Members. The Assistant Director (Planning) responded that it is something we could look at. We may need to have a protocol around confidentiality in that if we make it really clear that something needs to be kept confidential then the Member is aware. We want trust between all parties in the system as a whole and we need to understand what you are happy with and what processes you want
· The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed that Members had articulated how they think it needs to be, brief, simple to follow, transparent, with clear language and an explanation of terminology
The Chair thanked the Assistant Director (Planning) for the interesting and useful presentation.