Planning Conditions and Enforcement
- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 2.00 pm (Item 12.)
Report of the Strategic Director Development
Members have asked for a report which provides information relating to a number of planning related matters principally around the use and enforcement of planning conditions. This includes reference to conditions involving trees and open space.
Information has also been requested on how the Planning Service works with the Highway Authority and Social Providers. This includes with regards to the Highway Authority issues relating to construction management and our social providers through their development activity.
The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director Development that provided information requested relating to a number of planning related matters principally around the use and enforcement of planning conditions.
The Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing referred to the main points and themes within the report which included: -
· Information on planning conditions;
· The approach to enforcement action, including case studies;
· The monitoring of developments, including case studies;
· Data on the number of complaints investigated by the compliance team in the last 5 years;
· Conditions involving trees and open space, including case studies;
· Information on the number of complaints received specifically in relation to trees;
· Information on how the Planning Service worked with the Highway Authority and Social Providers; and
· A summary of the legal framework within which the planning system must operate.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -
· Information was sought in regard to who complaints, especially relating to construction should be directed to;
· Noting the low number of complaints relating to trees and commenting that these were relatively low;
· Further information was requested in relation to the work undertaken with housing providers and the importance of keeping local Members informed of developments;
· Consideration needed to be given to the impact of developments on residents and neighbourhoods, in particular the ability to deliver neighbourhood services such as bin collection; footpath closure and appropriate signage;
· Further information was sought on enforcement and the criteria applied to the public interest test;
· Did the city receive any compensation for road closures incurred as a result of private developments;
· What was the response to developers not complying with, or requesting removal of conditions, particularly in regarding to landscaping and green space;
· Members stated that information relating to planning being available in conservation areas, including proving information to local estate agents.
The Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing acknowledged the comment regarding the surprisingly low number of complaints relating to trees and confirmed that these were accurate. She stated that the Planning Department worked with social housing providers at all levels during development and acknowledged that dialogue with local Members had not always been consistent and this would be addressed.
In reference to the issue of construction, the Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing stated that many applications would require a Construction Management Plan that sought to mitigate disruption in the area. She advised that a virtual team was being established with officers from across a range of services, including the Highways Department to respond to any issues or complaints that may arise.
The Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing stated that an application to have a planning condition removed or varied would have to be submitted and due consideration given, however these applications were relatively low. She stated that if Members had specific concerns regarding conditions not being adhered to they should notify her and these would be investigated. She stated the local planning authority had powers to enforce breaches of planning control, adding that typically where formal notices were issued the compliance period is a minimum of 28 days, however each case would be considered to ensure the most appropriate and expedient action was taken to address any specific issue. In regard to the issue of the public interest test, the legal officer informed Members that there was no specific legal definition, however guidance relating to this was provided by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing stated that the local Neighbourhood Teams were proactive in local areas, including conservation areas and were a source of intelligence. She further informed Members that permission was currently being sought from the relevant Secretary of State to obtain legal powers to control the use of ‘To Let’ signs which were causing issues in parts of the city.
The Head of Network Management informed Members that the Council did not receive any payment by way of compensation when roads were closed when developments were being built. He described that the Highways Department worked with developers and contractors at pre application stage to understand and mitigate where possible the need for road closure, such as installing temporary traffic lights as an alternative to road closure and to ensure the sites and immediate area were safe. With reference to the comment regarding signage, he stated that this would always be asked for and if issues did arise officers would seek to address this.
The Committee recommend that the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and the Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport work together to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to mitigate the disruption to residents and services delivered in neighbourhoods that result from building construction.