Planning enforcement is required to ensure the planning process is upheld. A planning enforcement notice is issued to remedy all the breaches in planning control and have the scheme built to approved plans.
Enforcement action, for obvious reasons, is a far more formal legal process. The Council’s approach to enforcement action is governed by both national policy and the Council’s Local Enforcement Plan.
We support the Council’s decision to issue an enforcement notice and you can make appropriate reference to these sources as explained below.
A priority needs to be attached to this case because it is unauthorised development, which is the source of significant public complaint. A series of previous planning applications have been considered for similar designs that have attracted in excess of one hundred objections by local residents as well as statutory consultees. The proposals are for a large building on a highly visible site and can be viewed from a wide area. This suggests a priority, as per the local enforcement plan, second only to damage to prominent listed buildings and imminent loss of significant protected trees.
A central principle of the local enforcement plan when considering whether enforcement action is necessary is the question of whether planning permission would have been granted for this development had it been the subject of a planning application. These proposals clearly include a number of features from previous applications that have been refused. This is recognised in the Temporary Stop Notice which specifically recognised that the scheme being built is ‘more akin to the details of a planning application refused in 2010’. Planning permission was refused by B&NES Council and enforcement action has been the correct and necessary approach
By the architect’s own admission it was clear from before the commencement of construction of the building that his design would depart from approved plans. When the basement level was set it was clear. When the frame for the building was designed and assembled it was clear. At neither of these points or others, before or after, has the developer sought to go through the proper process. The developer has been fully aware of the need to submit revisions to planning permission and has deliberately chosen not to. Construction has proceeded with a flagrant disregard for the planning decision making process.
National Planning Policy says that ‘effective enforcement is important as a means of maintaining public confidence in the planning system’ (Para 207 of National Planning Policy Framework, DCLG, 2012)
More detailed national guidance says effective enforcement is important to:
- tackle breaches of planning control which would otherwise have unacceptable impact on the amenity of the area;
- maintain the integrity of the decision-making process;
- help ensure that public acceptance of the decision-making process is maintained.
(Planning Practice Guidance, DCLG 2014, ID 17b-006)
All three of these aspects apply in this case. The proposals create an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the area, the profile of the case makes it necessary to defend the integrity of the decision making process and it is necessary to enforce acceptance of the decision making process where a developer has deliberately chosen not to. Enforcement Action is therefore needed.