Agenda item

Planning enforcement update report

Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider the latest progress report of the new approach to planning enforcement (as set out in the Planning Enforcement Statement 2021) and provide any comments to the Cabinet Member for Planning.


(Nb: The link to the 2021 statement above is an appendix document for this item, also mentioned on page 25 of the agenda pack. It has not been included as an attachment, so please access it via the link.)


Cabinet member for Planning introduced the report, supported by the Enforcement Team Leader and Head of Planning:


The report provided an update on the continued improvement of planning enforcement work. Overall since the last report the on-hand enforcement case numbers had been further reduced and the performance improvement in throughput of cases had been maintained. In graph one on page 63 overall case numbers were continuing to fall. Councillors requested further reporting on older cases up to and over 36 months and graph two on page 64 confirms that focus on reducing the older cases was also starting to progress. In April, extra resources were moved into the team to help with managing workload and achieve the six-week performance target. This had worked well with greater consistency in the six-week performance target as seen on graph three on page 65. The additional resources had been made permanent to enable the team to maintain its improved performance and deal with an increasingly complex case load. Complex cases means, for example, sites with multiple breaches and or where a multi-agency team both internally and with our partners was required.

The Cabinet member considered that the current planning enforcement statement which sets out our approach to plan enforcement was working well and that there was no need for further change at this time. Cabinet member welcomed any questions or comments from the committee.


The committee provided their comments and questions, outlined as follows:


  • Member would like to see the numbers at zero to six months.
  • Scoring elements – a member asked whether this had been reviewed as per the last scrutiny meeting, to give higher scores to the most serious cases. The officer explained that the feedback that they got was reviewed, and as a result, they added greater weight to breaches of condition. You can see in the triage form that there was now a weight  given of four. Anything that hits a five or more goes to the next stage of investigation.
  • Paragraph 12 was highlighted by a member for showing the district was bucking the national trend of meeting customer demand and resourcing. A member would like to see qualitative data on the work of the team. Anonymised case studies etc, to highlight examples. Number of notices served as well? Background could be given to law and the framework the team works to. A suggestion was given that six-monthly reporting was too onerous, and yearly, with some qualitative data, would be better. The Cabinet member explained that there was no national targets to work to at present – she added that notices served wasn’t a good measure. The Cabinet member informed that other authorities were asking the team about their work, which was a sign of success. Parish and Town council training had been helpful in informing people of how the system works with the new Enforcement Statement (this was a previous scrutiny suggestion). Head of Planning suggested we could bring appeals success as a measure for enforcement, in due course. Enforcement appeals were over 90% won by the district. The Government was reviewing performance for the planning regime, but so for its mainly quantitative data suggestions.
  • The officer explained that there wasn’t a backlog like during Covid, and there would always be open cases. Open cases had been brought under 300. The team was now focussing on complex cases due to reduced backlog. Cases were now on-hand, not backlog.
  • Chair added that officers should focus on casework primarily, and we should avoid too many demands on reporting.



Committee noted the report and provided the following comments to Cabinet.

  1. Annual reporting wanted on monthly and annual figures of new cases coming through. Inclusion of cases 0-6 months.
  2. Committee would like to be updated on the triage scoring.


Supporting documents: