Backlog of planning investigations is becoming “unsustainable” says leading official

PUBLISHED: 08:24 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:24 07 August 2014

ECDC

ECDC

Archant

Planning enforcement officers say that the increase in their workload is outstripping resources and will become “unsustainable” in the long term.

Officials at East Cambridgeshire District Council told councillors that, despite working harder than ever, there remain more than 170 cases yet to be dealt with – causing increasing concern.

In a report to councillors, Andy Smith, senior enforcement officer, said: “New cases have again exceeded resolved cases and the numbers outstanding continue to rise. “This is despite closing more cases in this period, than in the last three reporting periods

“This is not sustainable in the long term and as previously indicated there is little

flexibility within the team to react to anything other than steady state.

“This is a concern given the high profile of some applications recently approved and the north of Ely development in the pipeline.

“This also has a knock on effect in delaying action on those cases which may end up going down the formal route.”

According to Mr Smith’s figures, 166 outstanding planning cases were brought forward at the start of the year and there were 165 new cases taken on in the last six months.

Mr Smith said that 157 cases were investigated and resolved by the end of June, but that left a whopping 174 cases still outstanding – to be taken forward into the next six-month period.

Of the 157 cases investigated, nine involved a planning enforcement notice being issued. Another 44 cases were resolved with ‘informal action’ which, Mr Smith said, was “welcomed as it involves developers putting works right at their expense”.

He added: “This saves the need for lengthy formal action and generally brings about a better end result for all involved.”

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