Counting cost of development

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FAILURE to pay towards public improvement projects account for just a few dozen of the reported breaches of planning permission probed by officials in Sheffield.

Unauthorised building work accounted for around half of complaints, while others involved failure by developers to comply with conditions and plans.

From April 2010 to the end of March this year, there were 929 new enforcement cases. Another 214 were received by June. Enforcement action was taken in 120 cases and 13 resulted in prosecution.

In one of the worst, a developer was prosecuted and fined by Sheffield magistrates for building an unauthorised rear extension on a neighbour’s land, and excavating a huge hole at the front of the house, on Sandford Grove Road, Nether Edge, destabilising surrounding properties. Owner Mohammed Arshad, aged 41, carried out botched work without planning permission over 10 years and repeatedly ignored enforcement notices from the council ordering him to stop, fill in the hole and remove the extension.

Magistrates could have fined him £20,000 but he was ordered to pay £270, plus £215 costs and a £15 surcharge due to his ‘lack of ability to pay’.

In a report to Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning board David Caulfield, head of planning, said: “Reports of potentially unauthorised developments or uses represent the main focus of enquiries, while ensuring compliance with approved plans and conditions was the second main activity.”

Mr Caulfield said a ‘large proportion of cases’ reported are resolved through negotiation but strong action was necessary in around 10 per cent. All were issued with notices ordering the breach to be resolved.

Such cases included a garden being illegally used as a scrapyard on Woolley Wood Road, Shiregreen, where the council issued a stop notice ordering the land use to cease, and enforcement action requiring the garden to be cleared.

Thirteen cases were prosecuted for ignoring notices.