Agenda item

Planning Enforcement


(a)       That the Committee notes the report and supports the further mitigating actions which are proposed; and


(b)       That a further update report be brought to the Committee in nine months.


The  Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) introduced the report.  He provided background information and explained that the report sets out the structure of the Planning Enforcement team and where it sits within the Development Management service and the Planning, Environment and Economy portfolio.  The adopted Planning Enforcement Policy was appended to the report and advised how it had been implemented and the Council’s performance against the Welsh Government Planning Enforcement indicators.


The Chief Officer commented on recent priorities for service delivery within the Planning, Environment and Economy portfolio in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  He also referred to the need to progress the Local Development Plan to meet the Examination deadlines.  The Chief Officer advised that Development Management, which included the Planning Enforcement service,  was not identified as a priority within the Council Plan.  The report outlined the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on service delivery, the mitigating actions taken. and further actions proposed.


Councillor Paul Shotton commented on the need for better communication in response to the queries raised by Members.  In acknowledging the need for some improvement the Chief Officer said action had been taken to address this and the need for Cabinet Members and Group Leaders to escalate matters on Members’ behalf if a response had not been received within the timescales in place. The Development Manager referred to the mitigation measures and future service improvements during 2021 as detailed in the report.


Councillor Chris Dolphin asked if Planning Enforcement was fully staffed.  He also expressed concern around the number of cases lodged with Legal Services awaiting prosecution and asked for an explanation of the back-log of work.  The Development Manager explained that the Planning Enforcement Service has 14 permanent officers split into two teams, one managing the North and the other the South of the County and reported on workload arrangements for the service.    Referring to the cases awaiting prosecution with  Legal Services, the Chief Officer explained that Legal Services worked in conjunction with other Services provided either within the Council, other local authorities, or external statutory bodies which impacted on progress.  He also commented on the greater demand on Legal Services due to active enforcement processes.


Councillor Derek Butler drew attention to section 1.21 of the report and commented on the time spent addressing unnecessary enquiries and complaints when no breach had been committed.


Councillor Chris Bithell commented on the additional  pressures on services as a result of the pandemic and emphasised that, unlike some other local authorities, service delivery had continued despite the impact  of reduced staffing due to illness or bereavement.    Councillor Bithell referred to a new back-office system to be provided in the near future which would enable Members and residents to be better informed of enforcement matters and the actions taken to address them.   Councillor Bithell commented on the time and resources required to investigate enforcement breaches.  He paid tribute to the Chief Officer and his team for maintaining a high level of services in very difficult circumstances.


The Chair referred to the employment of Eden Consultants to progress outstanding enforcement cases.  The Development Manager explained that 40 cases had been initially transferred to Eden Consultants on a trial basis and  robust systems and engagement was in place around each case.  She advised that the system was working successfully and a further number of cases had been transferred to Eden Consultants.  The Chief Officer commented that the Council had been successful in making claims to the WG for excessive costs and some of that funding would be used to pay for Eden Consultants.


The recommendations in the report were moved by Councillor Paul Shotton and seconded by Councillor Chris Dolphin




(a)       That the Committee notes the report and supports the further mitigating actions which are proposed; and


(b)       That a further update report be brought to the Committee in nine months.

Supporting documents: