18/01/2010

Planning enforcement at breaking point in Ceredigion

The dire situation with enforcement of planning laws in Ceredigion was highlighted in last week’s meeting of the Council’s Development Control Committee.

The meeting heard that Ceredigion’s sole planning officer receives an average of 400 cases a year. Going around Wales, with most councils having at least two enforcement officers, the next hardest working officer only has to deal with 200 cases a year. When I raised this in the meeting I was told that the astonishing difference in workload between Ceredigion’s enforcement service and others was due to lack of financial resources.

There have been many cases (for example below and here) where, because Ceredigion’s planning enforcement service is so stretched, it's not been possible to be pro-active in monitoring situations where planning rules are in danger of being infringed. Things have consequently exacerbated and legal officers, estates officers or health & safety officers have ended up getting involved before the situation can be resolved.

Some of these issues could cost the council less money if they were nipped in the bud early in the process. At the same time a small number of developers know the situation and are taking advantage by sailing close to the wind.

Planning enforcement needs to be properly resourced in Ceredigion and the figures from across Wales show how stretched things are here compared to other places.

1 comment:

  1. It appears not so much that the planning enforcement officer is overstretched as that there is no will on the part of the Council to try to enforce planning conditions. If I can paraphrase a letter on this subject from the Chief Executive, the Council try to find a solution that does not require legal action. This is a position of extreme weakness. The developers are laughing all the way to the bank. Cases must be assessed in order of severity and prosecutions taken for the most severe breaches in order to encourage the others.

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