To receive the final recommendations from the Planning Enforcement Working Group
The Committee had before it a *report of the Planning Enforcement Working Group, considering the operation and utilisation of enforcement powers and planning conditions and aimed to identify issues to inform service improvement.
The Chairman outlined the contents of the report thanking members and officers for their input into the final report and explaining that although the report did not detail individual cases, all the comments could be backed up with detailed evidence. The Chief Executive and senior officers had been kept fully informed of the work that was taking place and some of the suggestions raised had already been implemented.
Consideration was given to:
· Recommendation 6 – a sub group of the Planning Committee be established to monitor issues within planning enforcement – concern was raised as to whether there would be a conflict of interest for members of the Planning Committee and whether the Planning Policy Advisory Group or the Development Delivery Advisory Group would be a better route for this work or whether this was a management role. Members views differed with regard to this as it was felt that the Planning Committee agreed conditions for applications and therefore it should be that committee that monitored enforcement cases
· Whether any of the recommendations had been costed, members were referred to recommendation 12
· The views of the Corporate Manager who informed the meeting the some of the recommendations had already been considered – a Tree Officer was now in post (Rec 9), officers had been provided with tablets (Rec 4), new officers/contractors had been recruited and adverts had been placed for a new officer (Rec 1) and that he was already considering a revised Local Enforcement Plan (Rec 8)
· Recommendation 5 was also being considered by officers
· Members role in monitoring performance and ensuring the activities of officers were monitored
As some concerns had been raised with regard to Recommendation 6, the Chairman indicated that he would deal with this initially, therefore:
The Chairman MOVED that Recommendation 6 be included in the list of recommendations to be put before the Cabinet; upon a vote being taken, this was approved.
It was therefore:
Recommended to the Cabinet that the following recommendations be considered and actioned:
1. That the Council recruit further resource for planning enforcement so the team includes either: a Principal Planning Enforcement Officer, two Planning Enforcement Officers and trained dedicated admin support; or a Principal Planning Enforcement Officer and three Planning Enforcement Officers.
2. That the Council establish a dedicated Solicitor with planning experience to act as a direct point of reference for the Planning Department, this could potentially be a shared service with another Local Authority.
3. That the Planning Department establish a process to enable proactive monitoring of planning conditions. That a proposal for how this will be achieved is brought to the Scrutiny Committee by the Chief Executive within a month of adoption of recommendation by Council.
4. That Enforcement Officers are provided with tablets with mobile telephone connection, linked to MDDC systems, to assist on site visits so that information can be retrieved on site and allow immediate contact and consultation with management if required.
5. That internal procedures be put in place so that discretionary powers be delegated down to appropriate levels to allow enforcement officers to make relevant decisions on site.
6. That a Subgroup of the Planning Committee be established to monitor issues within Planning Enforcement. This standing Enforcement Advisory or Working Group would review performance, deadlines and outstanding cases, and report back to the Planning Committee.
7. That the free planning advice line and/or the contact telephone number be reinstated with immediate effect (as outlined by the Customer Service Working Group).
8. That the Local Enforcement Plan be rewritten to consider the views and recommendations of this report and to take into account more enhanced versions from other Local Authorities, notably the East Devon model. That the new Enforcement Plan be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration prior to submission for adoption by Planning Committee.
9. That a Tree Officer is recruited as a matter of urgency, this could potentially be a shared service with another Local Authority.
10. That the Chief Executive bring forward a proposal for making information on enforcement action more publicly available.
11. That the Development Management Manager establish a process for case management to ensure cases are monitored and followed up, so that cases are not lost within or between Departments.
12. That an implementation plan is drawn up to cost the recommendations made in this report, and passed to Cabinet for consideration.
(Proposed by the Chairman)
i) Cllr Mrs F J Colthorpe requested that her vote against the inclusion of Recommendation 6 be recorded;
ii) Cllr Mrs F J Colthorpe requested that her abstention from voting with regard to the recommendations to the Cabinet be recorded;
iii) *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.