The Assistant Director, Environment and Planning and the Enforcement Team Leader presented the report which gave background to the planning enforcement function and set out the current status and the past four years performance.
Councillor de Whalley referred to a number of retrospective applications, some of which had gone to appeal, taken over a year for enforcement action to be taken and asked how the Council could ensure residents were not at dis-amenity for a considerable amount of time. In response the Enforcement Team Leader provided an overview of the process involved could take a considerable length of time for enforcement action, where appropriate, to be taken.
Councillor Morley was interest how long longest case has lasted and asked if it was possible to present the figures on how many cases had been open and closed on a time and number basis. In response, the Enforcement Team Leader explained that colleagues could work to provide that information and undertook to forward the information to the Panel.
Councillor Mrs Spikings added that she was aware of question asked by Councillor Morley and explained that prior to Covid, the Planning Committee received a quarterly enforcement report, following Covid the Planning Committee would be presented with a report on a six monthly basis and that the information contained in the report was open to the public. The Planning Enforcement Team Leader explained that report contained information on a case by case basis and a breakdown of types of cases closed in that period.
In response to question from Councillor Devereux about process and how many enforcement actions arose from work of the team, how many raised by ward councillors or public, the Enforcement Team Leader explained that the majority were raised by members of the public.
The Portfolio Holder for Development commented that this was a tricky one because of resources in the various departments, the monitoring of conditions in some way were left to parishes and to the public so the council do tend to respond in that way. The Portfolio Holder added that the Borough Council served a greater number of enforcement notices than any other local authority in Norfolk and that the Council was effective in undertaking its enforcement duties with the resource available.
The Chair referred to a planning application in general which had been granted permission and then conditions breached and highlighted the importance of morally communicating with objectors to inform them on how any appropriate action was being progressed when a complaint was made
Councillor Morley commented that the Borough Council issued more enforcement notices than other local council and asked if any analysis had been undertaken to determine if there was a generic cause.
Councillor Spikings commented that she had known the enforcement team for a considerable time and was aware of the myriad of complaints and issues staff had to deal with and how difficult it was to resolve in a timely fashion and congratulated the team on the effective and efficient way they undertook the enforcement work.
The Portfolio Holder for Development also congratulated the enforcement team on the excellent work they undertook and with regard to retrospective applications he would like the opportunity to look at the administration processes with the Assistant Director and Enforcement Team Leader.
The Assistant Director, Environment and Planning explained that each case was different and that enforcement issues were complex and informed the Panel that there were currently two or three cases which were taking a huge amount of time, including the preparation of an Injunction to go to court or an Appeal.
The Chair suggested an amendment to the recommendation - to note the report and requested that the Cabinet Member examined how the planning department could improve compliance with the NPPF to maintain confidence in the planning system with greater engagement with complainants, which was agreed by the Panel.
RESOLVED: The Panel note the report and requested that the Cabinet Member examined how the planning department could improve compliance with the NPPF to maintain confidence in the planning system with greater engagement with complainants.