Requests for planning enforcement actions double in the space of three months

Requests for action by council planning enforcement officers have more than doubled in the first quarter of the current financial year compared to the previous three months, with 210 cases referred to officials between April and June.

Stop notice: Barnsley Council has taken legal steps to prevent work on a site in Worsbrough covered by a tree preservation order.
Stop notice: Barnsley Council has taken legal steps to prevent work on a site in Worsbrough covered by a tree preservation order.

Officers are now preparing formal legal actions in some cases, with cases prioritised for attention based on the severity of the harm being caused by unauthorised actions.

A stop notice was issued in June on land off Worsbrough Road, in Worsbrough, where the council say work had been done to form highways access from a wooded site, with hardcore and aggregate tipped, along with changes to the land levels in a area protected by a Tree Preservation Order.

That move legally prevents any further work at the site and is an escalation of an enforcement notice which had been issued by the council in December last year.

Another temporary stop notice has been imposed on a site off Willowbank in Barnsley, where material had been imported to the site and the profile of the land was being altered.

A court date is currently awaited by the council, which is taking legal action against Gleeson Homes over sites in Blyth Street, Wombwell, and Elwood, Lundwood, over alleged breaches of planning conditions.

The drives of houses there are finished with a loose gravel surface and the council has imposed conditions that they should have a solid surface, with a deadline to fulfil that obligation expired in both cases.

A report to councillors states: “The majority of cases received by the service are resolved through negotiation and contact with the parties concerned, some cases are also low level or considered technical breaches of planning control where formal action would not be appropriate.

“Cases can take several weeks to resolve as they may require interventions by the council and work with a variety of stakeholders including the submission of retrospective planning applications to be considered.

“Our service policy also seeks to negotiate first with those concerned to allow cases to be resolved at the earliest stage wherever possible.

“The service will also take swift and robust enforcement action to address breaches of planning control which are harmful and unacceptable.

“This can include ceasing works on site or preventing activities taking place at certain times of the day. Investigations and officer visits can be time consuming and have to be balanced with the available resource.”