Are planning enforcement laws too weak?

Are planning enforcement laws too weak?
Are planning enforcement laws too weak?

SHAVE (Sustainable Housing for Aylesbury Vale and the Environment) have hit out at Aylesbury Vale Planning Department after breaches from developers have gone unpunished, claiming AVDC advised builders to submit retroactive applications to cover their mistakes.

The complaint relates to the following application: 6/A3669/NON | Non Material Amendment sought on planning permission 16/03669/APP relating to the approved dormer window to Plot 11 be replaced with a window in the flank elevation. | High Trees And Land To The Rear Of 13 Brook End Weston Turville Buckinghamshire HP22 5RF

Janette Baxter from Shave said: "The developer made a mistake and installed a side window in the property which will overlook an existing neighbour's property, instead of the approved dormer window which would not.

"It seems as if the developer may have made a "mistake", but has been advised by AVDC to submit an application for retrospective approval.

"This is totally wrong and happens too often with developers.

"Enforcement seems to be reluctant to act and get the offending window removed and insist that the original approval is followed."

In response, Peter Brown, Group Manager for Regulatory Services:

"We appreciate and understand the importance of ensuring effective planning enforcement and indeed the effect on public confidence in the system.

"Our work is guided by our enforcement plan, which sets out our general approach and the formal powers available and is based on government guidance. It is a reasonable expectation that developers should adhere to the details approved under the planning permission granted, and we share the frustration and disappointment of local residents where there are departures.

"In cases such as these, we have to consider and balance a range of factors such as the harm arising from the changes in planning terms, along with the proportionality of any action, before embarking on any formal enforcement action. It is not simply the case that if someone does something different to the approved details that enforcement should automatically follow.

"In most cases, we will seek to negotiate the resolution of a breach, which can often include inviting the submission of a planning application, to allow for the circumstances to be fully considered. However, where a breach is serious enough, or causes potentially irreparable harm, formal action will be taken. There are a range of formal enforcement powers available to the Council which can, have and will continue to be utilised appropriately.

"We understand that in this case, local residents might prefer that we commence formal action, such as an enforcement notice. However, inviting a (retrospective) planning application is a proportionate response, and affords the opportunity for local residents and the parish council to make their views known.

"In this case, an application for a non material amendment as opposed to a full application (as suggested to the developer) has been submitted, which is currently being considered and upon which local residents have made their views known and these will be taken into account."

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