Issue - meetings

Planning & Enforcement

Meeting: 14/09/2021 - Environment & Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 23)

23 Planning & Enforcement pdf icon PDF 116 KB

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(a)       That the actions taken be supported;


(b)       That a progress report be provided to the Committee in March 2022; and


(c)        That Officers design a training programme on the new system to include staff, clients, and Members.


The Development Manager (Planning Services) introduced a report to provide an update on the performance of the planning enforcement service with particular focus on response times and communication standards, site visits, use of planning consultancy, backlogs, achievements, and mitigation actions.  She reported on the key considerations as detailed in the report.


The Development Manager introduced Andrew Fraser (Chief Executive) and Jamie Edwards (Operations Manager) Agile Applications, and Lynne Fensome, Project Lead – Planning Services.  She explained that Andrew and Jamie would introduce and demonstrate the new software system procured by the Planning, Environment & Economy Service to provide a better infrastructure to deliver a range of services within the portfolio.


The Chair expressed concerns around the lack of response from Planning officers to the enquiries from Members on planning and enforcement matters and commented on the 10 day response deadline which she felt was too long.  She acknowledged that some delays were due to wait times for a response from Legal Services which was beyond the control of Planning Services.  The Development Manager explained that the 10 day response timescale was a corporate deadline across all services in the Council.  She advised that the new software procured by the Planning, Environment & Economy Service would maximise the information available on planning applications directly to Members and the general public and therefore reduce the need for a direct response from officers to most enquiries and requests for additional information.


In response to the comments and concerns expressed by Members the Development Manager drew attention to the performance statistics provided in the report on the number of enforcement cases investigated, including those where positive enforcement action had been taken within each year and quarter 1 2021/22.  She also advised that the issue of backlogs was addressed within the report and it had been agreed that a business case be prepared for an additional full-time permanent Planning Enforcement officer to be employed  The Development Manager explained that she was not able to comment on the specific cases raised by Members but would respond directly following the meeting


Councillor Chris Bithell commented on the impact of Covid-19 on the Planning Service in terms of increased enquiries and applications concerning home improvements.  He also said there was raised public awareness of building development in local areas due to people having been restricted to their local area and working from home.  Councillor Bithell referred to the statistics provided in the, report and reiterated that the total number of cases investigated and the number of cases investigated in 84 days or less, had risen significantly since 2018/19.  He commented on the challenges of the pandemic and referred to the measures taken within the Planning service to maintain continuity of service delivery and performance.  He welcomed the introduction of the new software system (Agile Applications) which was much needed and would improve access to planning and enforcement information for Members, the general public, and applicants.    He advised that a workshop would be arranged to inform Members how to access and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23