Issue - meetings

Planning Enforcement Review

Meeting: 20/07/2021 - Overview & Scrutiny Panel (Item 323)

323 Planning Enforcement Review - Report back by the Planning Enforcement Working Party pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Report to follow.


Councillor Paul Moore, Chair of the Planning Enforcement Working party introduced the item and gave a feedback report to the Panel. The Panel was asked to either adopt the recommendations in the working party report or adopt an alternative approach to the review.


Members made comments and asked questions as follows:


  • The recommendations were a good idea;
  • The council could second a planning officer to increase the numbers on the planning enforcement team;
  • What was the timeline for finalising the recommendations?
  • Were there any opportunities using enforcement activities for making savings or generating income?
  • How would the council create incentives for developers to comply with palling policies in the first place without creating the need for retrospective planning applications?
  • Could some of the enforcement work be subcontracted?
  • How was the monitoring of development conditions that included planting of trees and creating play areas in new development, particularly with new large development coming up?
  • Could the council set its own local fees for planning enforcement?
  • How long should it take before the Section 106 fund is used?
  • If the S106 fund was identified for particular sites, how could councillors monitor the use of this fund?
  • Although the department was working with a small enforcement team, they were doing a great job;
  • On the Planning Enforcement Portal, there were a number of long-standing planning applications that included the caravan park and a burger bar. These two have generated a number of emails to councillors from residents. How would the department inform the public about progress regarding these applications?


Iain Livingstone, Planning Applications Manager responded as follows:


  • The OSP recommendations would add more information to the ongoing review;
  • The review would also be looking at additional resources that be made available to the department;
  • The option of apprentices would be considered;
  • The review would be for a six months period and was expected to be concluded by year end;
  • The new Protocol would be recommended to Full Council for adoption;
  • Officer could bring back a summary of the review outcome to the Panel meeting later in the year, (23 November 2021);
  • The Planning Enforcement team could use the criminal act to raise generate income, but that income would be shared with the government;
  • In order to adequately monitor development work, there would be a need for additional resources mainly the legal resources;


  • There were no punitive measures for retrospective planning applications;
  • Retrospective planning was permitted within the current national planning legislation;
  • The department has often approached estate agents to provide change of use advice to assist with minimising the number of retrospective planning applications;
  • There was a need to agree on an approach for inter departmental working to enhance the work of planning enforcement;
  • Adherence to living conditions and the environment were key priority areas for planning enforcement;
  • Compliance with conditions had generated the most complaints;
  • The setting of fees was done at the national level;
  • Use of S106 was dependent on the agreement in place. However most such agreements had a 5  ...  view the full minutes text for item 323

Meeting: 20/04/2021 - Overview & Scrutiny Panel (Item 302)

302 Planning Enforcement Review pdf icon PDF 93 KB


Councillor Bayford introduced the item and proposed that the Panel set up a working party with a membership of seven. The working party would have a single meeting to consider how best the Overview and Scrutiny Panel could inform the review of planning enforcement protocol.


Councillor Garner spoke under Council Procedure 20.1.


Members made comments as follows:


·  There were a number of climate emergency policies being adopted by Thanet District Council;

·  These policies had implications for planning permission compliance for any planning applications being submitted in the district;

·  Currently officers made follow ups only when there were complaints received regarding a development;

·  The current enforcement team was not resourced enough to be proactive in monitoring compliance;

·  The review of the current enforcement protocol should be open to the public;

·  It was suggested that the working party being proposed should have a wider remit that would include meeting with managers and inviting stakeholders before proposing any changes;

·  There was a need to know more about how other similarly sized councils were managing this issue.


Councillor Bayford and Madeline Homer, CEx responded as follows:


·  Scarcity of resources was the reason why the Panel would be suggesting this time around for a single meeting by the proposed working party;

·  This approach had been agreed with the officers;

·  Once it was viewed necessary and appropriate at a later stage, a working party with a bigger remit could be set up;

·  It was important to manage the public’s expectations from such a review;

·  The work of the panel had been finely balanced with the finite resources that the council had;

·  Consideration had also to be given to the fact that officers would need to set aside time to support this work stream.


Members agreed to set up a Planning Enforcement Review Working party with a membership of seven to consider how best the Overview and Scrutiny Panel could inform the review of planning enforcement protocol. The working party would have a single meeting before reporting back to the Panel.


Thereafter the Chair called on volunteers to be on this working party and the following Members volunteered:


Councillor Huxley;

Councillor Coleman-Cooke;

Councillor Lynda Piper;

Councillor Rattigan;

Councillor Paul Moore;

Councillor Currie.

Meeting: 18/02/2021 - Overview & Scrutiny Panel (Item 290)

290 Planning Enforcement Review pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Why is the planning enforcement process seemingly so slow in Thanet and how can it be made more efficient?

Additional documents:


Iain Livingstone, Planning Manager introduced the report and made the following comments:


  • The enforcement service was a complaints based service and was more reactive to issues being raised with the Enforcement Team. This approach helped to balance resources for the Planning Department;
  • When a complaint for a planning permission breach was report, the first stage was to find whether indeed a planning permission was required;
  • If the breach was established, an informal process would be used to correct the situation and help bring the issue through a planning process for a proper permission to be granted;
  • If no action was taken by the offending party, enforcement action would be taken by the council;
  • There were no defined statutory deadlines by which complaints should be resolved. The enforcement focus would always be to try and bring a planning matter back into the planning protocol;
  • There were often delays in the enforcement process whose control would be outside the council, for example the appeals process which could take anything between six months up to a year or longer in some instances, during which time enforcement action would be kept in abeyance;
  • Thereafter compliance would be from when the decision was made. The grace period given for compliance would be anything between three months and up to fifteen months;
  • The council was currently reviewing and updating the 2015 enforcement protocol. The updates would include developing a process map. Planning date would used to integrate planning applications and enforcement information;
  • The issue of funding of the enforcement function would also be reviewed with input from Finance.


Members asked questions and made comments as highlighted below:


  • The council’s enforcement team of two officers was one of the smallest in the county, whilst some neighbouring councils had up to four enforcement officers;
  • It was important to review the staffing for the enforcement team as the council was expecting a number of large developments in the district in the coming years. These developments would have tougher bio diversity conditions attached to them. These would require enforcement to ensure compliance to the new planning policies that try to address climate emergency issues;
  • There was a need to set up a scrutiny project to review the effectiveness of enforcement in the district;
  • Why was the council not penalising those who did not have planning permission in order to deter others from committing breaches?
  • Continuity of enforcement - How long could the council keep enforcement in abeyance?
  • How long did it take the council to intervene when there was a breach of the planning protocol;
  • Information updates by the Enforcement team would be most welcome by the public. Such updates could be published on the council’s website
  • Some of the conditions that were showing on the planning applications considered by the Planning committee showed landscaping to be done. However when it came to project implementation, not all of the project followed through with the landscaping as reflected in the documents submitted to the council. There was a need to effectively  ...  view the full minutes text for item 290