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Planners seek views on draft enforcement plan

Planning image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.netEden District Council has published a Draft Local Enforcement Plan and is seeking people’s views before adopting a final version.

Local planning authorities have a duty to investigate reported unauthorised development and have discretionary powers to take planning enforcement action.

The government’s National Planning Policy Framework recommends that all planning authorities produce a Local Enforcement Plan to assist in managing enforcement proactively in a way that is appropriate for their area.

The Council’s Draft Local Enforcement Plan sets out:

  • How to report breaches of planning control to the Council
  • How the Council will investigate reported breaches
  • What advice the Council will provide and how
  • When the Council will take action
  • When the Council will not take action
  • The legal powers at the Council’s disposal and how it will use them
  • When the Council will prosecute and when it will take direct action

Eden District Council’s Planning Services Development Manager, David Wright, said: “Over the past 18 months, we have been dealing with planning enforcement in a more efficient and  robust way.

“Once we have investigated complaints and established there are only minor breaches that cause no harm, then files are closed down, as there would be no legal basis to pursue the matter further. However, if we see harmful unauthorised activity then we issue and serve legal notices quickly rather than enter protracted negotiations. We have also prosecuted landowners and used powers of entry to remove breaches or clean up land after owners have failed to comply with our legal notices.

“The Draft Local Enforcement Plan allows all parties to know exactly where they stand, whether they are someone informing us of a breach, a landowner, developer, planning consultant or a solicitor acting on their behalf.”

Some local authorities in urban areas have large teams of planning enforcement officers dedicated to investigating breaches of planning control and taking legal action. This would be unsustainable in Eden District. The District Council has two part-time officers dedicated to planning enforcement, with other Planning Officers supporting their colleagues as required.

Although Eden District has a small population of around 55,000 people, it is the largest non-unitary authority area in England. Therefore, if someone wishes to receive advice on how to overcome a planning breach, the Council is proposing this can only be done by paying the Council through its Planning Advice Service.

Eden District Council’s Development Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Owen MBE, said: “We’ve already made changes to how Planning Enforcement is covered by the Council and our draft Local Enforcement Plan reflects this. House builders know they’ll receive a legal notice if they do not comply with planning conditions and anyone attempting any harmful development without planning permission will quickly find their site closed down.

“We need to makes sure the service we provide both protects our unique landscape and is cost effective. If someone wants formal advice from us before proceeding with a planned development, they need to pay the Council for that service. Therefore it is common sense that when someone breaches planning control of course they should pay for our advice too. I would encourage people to respond to this consultation so we can plan how to carry out our planning enforcement function in the future.”

The Draft Plan is available to view and download from the Council’s website: www.eden.gov.uk/planning-enforcement

The Draft Plan will also be made available at the Council Offices as well as at the following Local Links and Libraries across the district:

  • Alston Local Links
  • Appleby Library
  • Kirkby Stephen Local Links
  • Lazonby Co-op (Library Link)
  • Penrith Library
  • Shap Library Link

Should you wish to make representations on the draft plan, this must be done in writing. Please contact the Council on the telephone number below if you need to request a copy of the plan by post.

All response forms should be sent either:

  • By email: planning.services@eden.gov.uk
  • By post to: Planning Services, Eden District Council, Mansion House, Friargate, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7YG.

All comments must be received in writing by 9am on Wednesday 18 April 2018 and will be reviewed by the Planning Team before producing a final draft for the Council’s Executive to approve.

If you have any questions or queries in relation to the Draft Local Enforcement Plan, then please contact a member of the Planning Services on 01768 817817 or by email: planning.services@eden.gov.uk