South Tyneside Council has agreed a new policy for the enforcement of planning and building control.
The new policy represents a step change in the Council's approach to enforcement, and provides for a joined up approach from planning and building control which will result in a better enforcement service to the public.
For the first time the policy also prioritises enforcement action. The top priority is to tackle unauthorised work, development or uses which: affect health and safety; welfare or amenity; are dangerous; result in irreversible damage; are contrary to a decision of the Council.
Councillor Audrey McMillan, Chairman of the Planning Committee, welcomed the adoption of the new policy, saying: "By prioritising joined up enforcement work we will provide for a more effective and efficient enforcement service for the Borough's residents. Prioritising does not mean that action will not be taken against breaches of planning or building control, or that people will 'get away with it'. It simply means that some less important cases may take longer to investigate and resolve."
Paul Dowling, Local Development Manager says: "The modernisation of the service is in line with national policy and represents a very important change to service delivery. These changes will also underpin the move towards better quality urban design. It is no good spending time achieving the good design of buildings, places and spaces on a plan if it is not actually delivered on the ground."
Ian Wilkinson, Building Control Manager, commented: "If we need to take enforcement action, then people now have a document to refer to, so that they will know why we are taking action and what is involved in the process. This is an important step in communicating what we do, and demonstrates the authority's commitment to modernisation."
Councillor McMillan added: "The priority system will place greater value on achieving better quality new developments."
The adoption of the policy and new information leaflet has been developed in response to the Planning Committee demand to give greater emphasis to enforcement action and is regarded as the bedrock of the planning and building control service.
If anyone has a planning and building control enforcement complaint related to a new development or uses they can contact the Council's new Borough-wide Planning Enforcement Officer, Malcolm Thompson on 424 7416; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul Dowling on 424 7402; e-mail: email@example.com.