Agenda item

Annual assurance report on planning decision making and enforcement arrangements

The report of the Chief Planning Officer provides assurance that the Council’s arrangements for dealing with and determining planning and enforcement matters are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with .


The report of the Chief Planning Officer presented the Council’s arrangements for dealing with and determining planning and enforcement matters. The Chief Planning Officer has responsibility to ensure that arrangements are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated, routinely complied with and monitored and has internal arrangements in place to provide assurance in the decision-making process and to mitigate any potential risk of challenge on the grounds of partiality or bias.


Members were informed of the following points:

  • The report related to the period April 2022 to March 2023.
  • The service had faced a number of challenges during the reporting period including backlog issues from the pandemic, budget and resource issues, and system process changes.
  • Define and Document sets out the national legislation and requires the Local Planning Authority to prepare plans through planning policies and procedures alongside the Officer’s Delegation Scheme and other guidance such as Plans Panels Terms of Reference and Planning Code of Good Practice.
  • Training sessions are provided to Members and officers.
  • Regular meetings are held to discuss performance and decision making.
  • The Service has faced challenges with staff turnover and recruitment.
  • An independent service review had been undertaken and the service is currently working on comments received in relation to customer communication, complaints and appeals.
  • Monitoring is embedded in the service and benchmarking takes place with core cities and practitioner groups.
  • It was noted that the service has seen a reduction in applications in the last six months. However, some of the applications being received do have complex issues.
  • The number of complaints to the service had improved.
  • Working with colleagues in IDS has seen service improvement for planning services. This included the use of the performance dashboard and a validation checklist.
  • The service was still waiting for details of Government changes to planning legislation and policy.
  • Information is clearly communicated to staff and MS Teams has been used, so the meetings can be recorded, and lessons learned.


Responding to questions from Members the Chief Planning Officer provided the following information:

  • Planning Enforcement is a discretionary service which is highly important. There are a range of measures used, so that proportionate action can be taken. It was noted that more resources were required for enforcement. It was acknowledged that there were costs associated with enforcement action and these needed to be balanced against the risks.
  • The Chief Planning Officer gave assurance that the methodology used for enforcement action was consistent and there was guidance on the procedures. The service was working with colleagues in Finance and Legal in relation to any enforcement action. It was noted that a briefing could be provided for Members.
  • Members offered to provide examples where in their view inconsistent approaches had caused delays and costs. The Chief Planning Officer said he would review any examples that were sent to him. He said at any one time there was 1,000 cases ranging from modest breaches to significant matters.
  • The Committee were advised that the planning comments by a third party were not covered in this report, as it was not part of the same reporting period. The Committee noted that this matter would form part of a report to the relevant Scrutiny Board in 2024.


RESOLVED – To consider and note the positive assurances provided in the report and future steps to provide additional assurance in the process.




Cllr Firth joined the meeting at 10:55 during this item.

Supporting documents: