Agenda item

Draft Planning Enforcement Strategy


The Committee were presented with the draft Planning Enforcement Strategy and their views were sought.


Members made the following comments regarding reporting a Planning breach through the website:


·         The current method of reporting a Planning breach on the Councils website was clunky and needed to be amended to become more efficient and simplified. 

·         There should a be a single link on the front page of the website that, when clicked, took the user straight to the page where they could report planning breaches

·         The form itself asked for the users details before it asked for the details of the breach and there was nothing on the form to inform users that their details would be completely protected. A passage needed to be included telling the user that their details would be protected, not shared with anyone else and used only if absolutely necessary

·         The form layout should be amended to ask for the potential planning breach details first and then take the personal details last; users were more likely to give their personal details if they had already filled out the rest of the form


In response to Members concerns/comments the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that:


·         The Council had recently moved to a new website provider and the Digital Team were spending a lot of time looking at accessibility and wayfaring; a meeting was held the other day with the Digital Team and Planning Enforcement and one of the first questions asked what was the three key areas that should be located in three buttons at the top of Planning Enforcement Page

·         The three areas deemed most important were around pre-planning application advice, looking for active planning applications and reporting a planning breach. Advice was also being sought from the officers in teams that dealt with people first hand and those officers that dealt with people through the contact centre in order to gather more information that would make the website more helpful to the public

·         With regards to the reporting process for planning breaches, the Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to review the form and take Members comments on board. However, someone reporting a breach had to give their personal details on the form otherwise their complaint couldn’t be accepted; the current confidentiality and privacy statement was clear about what was done with personal details. The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that there were a few issues with data sharing and representation but agreed to look into what could be done make it more clearer to the public what the Council did with their details


Following further comments and questions regarding the draft Planning Enforcement Strategy, the Assistant Director (Planning) advised that:


·         COU was an acronym and stood for ‘change of use’

·         It was planned to create a one page document written from the perspective of Cllr Sullivan that summarised the Planning Enforcement Strategy laying out what breaches the Council would enforce and what the Council wouldn’t enforce. The document would be written up using simple, easy to read language and terminology and then uploaded to the website to provide clarification to the public on what the Strategy meant

·         When a breach was reported through the e-form on the website, a reference number was not generated as the data had to be rekeyed into Uniform. At times, officers found a lot of people reporting the same breaches and multiple reports would be logged on Uniform as one definitive record. The record on Uniform would have a number which Enforcement officers would use to report developments against the case

·         The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to investigate outside of the meeting how Ward Members could be updated about enforcement cases at various sites within their wards

·         The Strategy would be published and made available on the Councils website; advertisement of the Strategy’s publication would be carried out through the Councils various social media channels and an article in the ‘Your Borough’ magazine. The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to discuss further advertisement of the Strategy with Cllr Sullivan outside of the meeting


In response to several concerns raised by a Member about a particular case, the Chair advised that she would catch up with Cllr Lane outside of the meeting.


The Committee endorsed the draft Planning Enforcement Strategy.


Supporting documents: