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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Area Planning Committee (Central) held on 23/04/2008

Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to provide Members of all the Area Planning Committees with a report on progress of the Planning Enforcement Service for the two quarters of October to December 2007 and January to March 2008.



[Wards Affected: Godalming Binscombe; Godalming Central & Ockford; Godalming Charterhouse; Godalming Farncombe & Cattleshall; Godalming Holloway; Elstead & Thursley; Milford; Witley & Hambledon]

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to provide Members of all the Area Planning Committees with a report on progress of the Planning Enforcement Service for the two quarters of October to December 2007 and January to March 2008.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications since the majority of the work is confidential and not open to public scrutiny.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct resource implications arising from the report itself.

There are no direct legal implications arising from the report although individual cases reported will require legal input and resources.

1. Introduction

This report is intended to bring Members up to date with enforcement performance for the periods October to December 2007 and January to March 2008. The report will also refer to current issues impacting on the Enforcement Service. It will furthermore inform Members as to the work already in hand with regard to bringing some long running cases to a head. Please note that when this report refers to a breach of planning control a breach is one individual site irrespective of the number of complaints received about the site.

Sections 1 – 7 of this report refer to Borough-wide development.

2. Staffing Issues

The Enforcement Team has been fully staffed until the departure on maternity leave of one of the compliance officers on the 14 March 2008. When the team was fully staffed this had a very positive impact on the workload resolution. The statistics table below shows an increase of cases investigated within the 8 week period from 29% up to 62% in the October – December period. Since this period there has been a reduction in cases investigated in eight weeks but an increase in cases closed.

3. New Cases

Between October and December 2007 the Team received 110 alleged breaches of planning control and in the quarter to 31 March 2008, 131.

The table below shows a significant increase in the number of investigations completed and number of cases closed within 8 weeks, compared to the July – September period.

    Cases Received
Investigations completed
Cases on hand
% Investigated within 8 weeks
Cases closed
Enforcement notices served
PCN’s served
Stop Notices served
    Direct Action

4. Notices served

12 Planning Contravention Notices and no Enforcement Notices were served in the quarter October to December 2007 and in the quarter January to March 2008, 28 Planning Contravention Notices and 2 Enforcement Notices were served.

5. Appeal Performance

Seven appeal decisions have been received in the reporting period. These were: -

Crowthorne, Furzen Lane. This appeal was dismissed by the planning Inspector and the Notice upheld with one variation, which is to allow the retention of the entrance porch. The compliance date is now 25th January 2009.

Land adjoining 8 Ball & Wicket Lane. This appeal was dismissed with variations and corrections. The date for compliance is 18th July 2008.

Land at Charles Hill, Tilford. Appeal dismissed. The compliance date is 24th June 2008.

Kestrel Wood Stables, Thursley. Appeal dismissed. The date for compliance is 10th June 2008.

The Barrows, Elstead. Appeal allowed, Enforcement Notice quashed. Planning permission was granted as the planning inspector found no material harm to AONB and AGLV interests with regards to the deer fence, and the harm to the Green Belt and AONB/AGLV resulting from the gates and brick piers was outweighed by the fact that structures of not significantly less height could be erected as permitted development.

29 The Avenue, Haslemere. Appeal dismissed with variations and amendment to time for compliance from two months to three. Time for compliance 26th May 2008.

The Old Windmill, Pitch Hill, Ewhurst. Appeal dismissed. Compliance date 20th September 2008.

It should be noted that over the past 12 months the Council has lost only one Enforcement Notice appeal (The Barrows, Elstead) and this was on planning merits and not the issuing of the Enforcement Notice.

6. High Hedge Complaints and Tree Protection Work

All High Hedge investigations are now up to date. The Enforcement Team frequently receives enquiries on high hedges but few generate into formal complaints requiring investigation.

7. Prioritising Enforcement Cases

The table below shows how Enforcement cases are currently prioritised as agreed by Members in 2004.

A risk assessment is made of each case at an early stage to determine its priority in the workload.

a) Primary Criteria

Health and Safety danger
Close to exempt time period (4 years/10 years) and
Imminent loss of irreplaceable asset e.g. Listed Building, Protected Tree etc.

b) Secondary

Score out of Five
1.Easily reversible (1 easy – 5 difficult)
2.Level of public concern (number of objections) (1 low interest – 5 high)
3.Harm to land use policies (1 low – 5 high)
4.Harm to general character and amenity (1 low – 5 high)
5.Flagrant breach (repeat offender?) (1 no – 5 yes)
Score: 20 – 25 – High priority. 10 – 20 – Medium priority. 0 – 10 Low priority.

If there is a yes response to the primary criteria the investigation will be promoted to a high priority case. Where secondary criteria apply a range of responses will apply from immediate response to not urgent. However the fallback position is that all cases should be investigated within the 8 week target unless there are reasonable reasons why this cannot be met.

It is considered by the Enforcement Team that this prioritisation system does not work in practice, as it requires a site visit to be made prior to prioritising the case and the backlog skews this assessment. It is therefore suggested that the following system be instigated from April 2008 when the current workload should be at a more manageable level. This proposed system is much easier to understand and implement from the outset of the investigation.

Priority One – Major – First contact or site visit within 24 hours of receipt of complaint

Works that are irreversible or irreplaceable or constitute a serious breach
Unauthorised works to a Listed Building
Gypsy or traveller unauthorised incursions
Breaches of Article 4 Direction
Significant development within the Green Belt
Unauthorised works to trees protected by a TPO or within a Conservation Area

Priority Two – Medium – First contact or site visit within 5 working days from receipt of complaint

Activities that cause harm to residential amenity i.e. car businesses
Change of use
General development
Breach of conditions and not built in accordance with approved plans
General compliance checks
Adverts including fly posting and A boards

Priority Three – Low – First contact or site visit within 10 working days from receipt of complaint

Means of enclosure
Dropped curbs
Satellite dishes
Minor operations
Any low impact to residential amenity

Anonymous complaints are generally not investigated unless the complaint relates to any priority one subjects.

Cases are currently investigated according to the date on which they were received or the difficulty of retrieving the situation for example, unauthorised works to listed buildings and protected trees are automatically priority one cases being investigated within 24 hours of receipt by the Team. Cases are then investigated according to how close they may be coming to their immunity time. Once the old cases have been cleared it is anticipated that the Team, instead of the current 10 working days, will initially investigate most cases within 5 working days from date of receipt. However, this target cannot be realistically altered until the current work levels within the Team have been dramatically reduced.

8. Current Update on Previous Enforcement Cases

The following are cases where formal notices have been issued but compliance with the notices have not been met. In most cases the owners of the respective land/property are now co-operating with the Enforcement Team in addressing their individual breaches thus making them responsible for their actions and avoiding lengthy and costly court procedures.

Updates since the previous report are shown in bold type.

Members are reminded that if they require further information on these cases or have questions please contact the Enforcement Team.

49 Minster Road, Godalming

Detached garage not built according to approved plan (WA99/0162). Committee resolved to take enforcement action 17th September 2003. Enforcement Notice served. Appeal dismissed. Date for compliance expired on 14th January 2005. Owner submitted further applications for alternative schemes. Most recent application refused; appeal dismissed – work undertaken by owner not sufficient to comply with the Enforcement Notice – currently with Legal to consider whether prosecution possible.

Enforcement Officer: Gina Pink

Tuesley Farm, Tuesley Lane, Godalming

Enforcement Notice served on 29th July 2004 to secure removal of polytunnels, fences/windbreaks, mobile homes and associated engineering works. Appeal dismissed, compliance 12 months. High Court appeal dismissed 15th December 2006. WA/2007/1962 – erection of up to 20 hectares poly tunnels on a rotational basis within defined areas on the 190 hectares agricultural holding. Approved 28th November 2007. Compliance date for removal of mobile homes extended to 31st May 2008.

Enforcement Officers: David Andrews & Hilary Hobbs


Members are invited to note the improvement in performance on planning enforcement and make any observations on the revised prioritisation of new enforcement cases to be implemented from 1st April 2008.

Background Papers (C&PD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


Name: Gina Pink Telephone: 01483 523114
Principal Planning Enforcement Officer Email: gpink@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/Area Planning Committee (Central)/2007-08/Archive/230408/Appendix A