What are the priorities?
9.1 The Council receives approximately 300 planning enforcement complaints every year.
9.2 Because of the often lengthy and complex nature of planning investigations and limited staff resources, it is necessary to give priority to those cases where the greatest harm is being caused. The following provides examples of how cases are prioritised:
- Demolition or alterations to a Listed Building.
- Demolition in a Conservation Area that is causing immediate and irreparable harm.
- Permanent damage to the environment (e.g. loss of protected tree, unauthorised work affecting the character of a listed building)
- Development that is causing serious danger to public safety
- Changes of use which are seriously impacting upon amenity.
- Building work, which is unlikely to be given planning permission/or granted without substantial modification.
- Property or land whose condition adversely affects the amenity of the surrounding neighbourhood
- Development which is contrary to significant policies in the Development Plan
- A breach causing problems, which may be resolved by limited modification (E.g. insertion of opaque glazing in an unauthorised window to overcome privacy problems; restrictions on hours of use etc.), reduction in boundary fence height.
- Breaches of a minor nature raising minimal planning concerns.
9.3 We will assess whether a site visit is necessary. If we consider it necessary to do so - we aim to visit in accordance with the following timescales:
- Priority 1: Same day or next working day.
- Priority 2 & 3: Within 10 working days (5 days if harm is considered substantive).
- Priority 4: Within 20 working days
What to do if you are not satisfied with the Council's service
9.4 If you feel that there is unreasonable delay, or an error in the way in which an enforcement investigation is being carried out, you should contact the Team Leader of the Development Management Section (see below for telephone number). They will investigate the matter, review the circumstances and advise you within 10 days about what action will be taken. If a matter requires further investigation, you will be advised of this at the time.
9.5 If you are still dissatisfied with the service, then you can make a formal complaint - details of the procedure for which will be sent to you. Please remember that the complaints procedure does not apply to matters which are directly related to a Council or committee decision or where there is a legal remedy or appeals process. You can, of course, contact your local Councillor at any time.
9.6 If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of any investigation, you may complain to the Ombudsman; information on how to do this will be given to you by the Council. The Ombudsman will not normally deal with a complaint unless it has first been through the Council's own complaint procedures and deals only with aspects concerning the conduct of the investigation.
9.7 We always welcome constructive criticism and any ideas on how we can improve Council services. Please contact us if you can suggest ways of improving the service.