Concern over borough council’s planning enforcement backlog

West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds
West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds
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A council has been criticised for its failure to deal with a backlog of hundreds of planning enforcement cases.

Cllr Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning and growth, came under fire over concerns about enforcement services performance at a full council meeting earlier this month.

Colin Hilder, of Fornham St Genevieve, said: “There were 217 unauthorised development enforcement cases still outstanding as of May 2015 and some of these cases stretch back more than 15 years without resolution.”

He asked Cllr Pugh to ensure that regular reports were submitted to the council’s Development Control Committee, with detailed data to allow councillors to analyse the history of cases and properly monitor performance.

A week earlier, referring to the two enforcement cases that were closed between March and May, he told the same committee it would take ‘27 years to clear up at that rate’.

A council committee report in March stated that it had been ‘under considerable pressure with regards to enforcement for some time’, with consultants LSR Solicitors passed ‘considerable amounts’ of work after its enforcement officer left in 2014.

Cllr Pugh said new systems had been put in place following the council’s appointment of a new enforcement team in February of this year.

“This has been a failing in the past and I’m happy to admit that but I’m delighted it’s being addressed under the new planning regime we’ve got,” he said.

Mr Hilder also requested sufficient data be made available to ensure the 138 cases fast tracked to closure by LSR Solicitors over 12 months were all closed ‘for genuine reasons and not for convenience’.