More than 500 Welwyn Hatfield planning enforcement cases

PUBLISHED: 12:26 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:26 23 February 2018

Scaffolding around Campus West in Welwyn Garden City.

Scaffolding around Campus West in Welwyn Garden City.

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Council is currently dealing with more than 500 enforcement cases when it comes to planning and estate management, a report has revealed.

The development management committee document lifts the lid on the council’s performance when it comes to dealing with planning applications.

According to the data, there are 536 outstanding enforcement cases, some of which are awaiting prosecution, notices to be served or in the case of estate management, for arbitration.

The council is continuing to deal with a “high” number of planning applications and admits “recruitment continues to be challenging” in this department.

When it comes to planning appeals, 38 per cent were allowed by the Planning Inspectorate towards the end of 2017 and 50 per cent in the previous quarter.

In both cases, the council failed to meet its local target.

“There continues to be a trend towards appeals being allowed or allowed with conditions by the Planning Inspectorate,” it was noted in the report.

In the first quarter of 2017, 651 planning applications were received, 756 in quarter two, 750 in quarter three and 733 in the fourth.

In 25 per cent of cases, the council sought time extensions to deal with the applicants’ plans.

It should also be noted that time extensions do not go against the council in terms of speed of decision making when reporting to the government.

“Seeking time extensions means that case officers workloads overall increase which makes dealing with newer applications on time more difficult.

“On average, each full time equivalent case officer has approximately 83 cases on hand,” the report highlights.

The landscaping team at the council is responsible for dealing with applications relating to tree preservation orders (TPOs), applications for works to trees in Conservation Ares and estate management applications where works are proposed to trees or hedges.

The council receives about 200 applications a year for estate management and 300 TPOs and works to trees in Conservation Areas.

Applications for works to trees in Conservation Areas require the council to determine whether or not the tree should be protected by a TPO.

Decisions must be made within six weeks and the order issued within this timescale.

If a decision is not made on the first day of the 7th week, the applicant may undertake the works that they were seeking consent for.

The report, by development management service manager Chris Carter, states that the council’s performance was 50 per cent in the last quarter of 2017.

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