Have Your Say on Planning Enforcement

Ruddington’s three Borough Councillors are encouraging us to have our say on a proposed ‘Code of Practice’ to give the authority more powers of enforcement over breaches in planning control.

It’s been hard to turn a corner here recently without coming across some building work or other – whether taking place at the heart of our historic Conservation Area or on the outer fringes of the village. Four significant further housing development sites have been approved recently on former Green Belt land in Ruddington, with construction having started most recently along Wilford Road {top photo}. All these approvals come with a string of conditions which are supposed to be adhered to in order to both minimise the impact on existing residents and to protect the future property owners. However, currently, the trouble starts if breaches happen.

Cllr Dickman

Conservative Councillor Gary Dickman explains: “At present, Rushcliffe Borough Council has only a discretionary Code of Practice for the enforcement of planning conditions, which is due for review in March. The Council would like to change from a Code of Practice to a Policy, as this would give it more powers of enforcement.”

The Council expects land owners and developers to comply with planning legislation and not carry out development until they have the necessary planning permission. Such development includes building operations and also the type or use that land or property is being put to. At its December 2020 meeting, its Cabinet approved a six week public consultation on its Draft Planning Enforcement Policy – which is now underway. The results of this consultation are to be considered by the Cabinet before reaching its decision.

“If the more robust procedures of a planning enforcement policy are adopted, this will give the Council more powers of enforcement across the Borough – including Ruddington – to respond to any breaches of planning conditions than it has at present with its Code of Practice” adds Cllr Dickman. “With the new housing developments going ahead, the ability for our planning officers to enforce rather than to just ‘ask’ to stick to the planning conditions is a necessary ‘tool’ for us to use.”

The building of ‘Wilbur Chase’ is also underway – with official construction access off Asher Lane

The process for dealing with allegations of unauthorised development is set out in the flowchart below:

Cllr Walker

Labour Councillor Jen Walker agrees the Borough Council needs more powers: “Unfortunately, we have recent evidence of our village being impacted by a lack of strength in our planning enforcement regulations. We have seen several high-profile examples of land in our Green Belt being destroyed without permission by developers who have subsequently sought retrospective planning permission. This can be interpreted as a means of circumventing due process without any consequence.” Cllr Walker adds: “Hopefully this consultation will allow the Borough to strengthen its planning enforcement rules to truly protect our precious Green Belt and help protect Ruddington’s status as a village.”

Cllr Gaunt

Fellow Labour Councillor Mike Gaunt has also felt frustration with how the existing planning approvals were granted: “Ruddington has seen unprecedented levels of house building in the past few years and it is putting pressure on our underfunded and creaking infrastructure” he says. “Despite Councillor Walker and I fighting hard and speaking out against these developments our appeals have consistently fallen on deaf ears. Hopefully a strengthening of planning enforcement will give us more scope to protect Ruddington going forward, but my fears are that these plans are too weak. Public engagement in this process could help to give these proposals more teeth and allow us to protect our village going forward.”

The draft document reveals normally the Council will proactively monitor residential development of 50 dwellings or more. This means all the Ruddington housing sites approved during Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Local Plan Part 2 will be monitored. For other development types, such as commercial/leisure development, or infill housing, it appears they will only be reviewed on a case by case basis – normally when someone complains!

You can find Rushcliffe Borough Council’s full, 18 page Draft document >>HERE<<. Any comments about it should be emailed to planningandgrowth@rushcliffe.gov.uk by 29th January 2021 at the latest.

The route taken by construction lorries is among the conditions of granted planning applications. {PHOTO: Paul Witney}

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