The new Planning Enforcement Charter for Glasgow was approved by the city council today (6 February).
While the power to take enforcement action is discretionary, local authorities - through the Planning Etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 - must provide a publicly available document (the Charter) explaining not only their approach to dealing with breaches of planning control, but also how the enforcement system works, how the public can raise complaints about alleged breaches of planning control, the role of the planning authority and the service standards it sets itself.
The Planning Etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 Act requires a new Charter to be produced every two years, taking into consideration any changes in legislation that may have occurred throughout the duration of the previous Charter. The most significant change in this period was the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019. The new Act guides the future structure of the modernised planning system and will include measures to strengthen planning enforcement.
Increases in fines for non-compliance with effective enforcement notices came into place from 20 December 2019 onwards as well the potential for fines to take into account financial benefits accrued as a consequence of the breach. Nevertheless, some changes have been made to the Charter in anticipation of requirements that will come in through the lifespan of the 2020-2022 Planning Enforcement Charter.
The Charter is revised to be more user-friendly, splitting the enforcement process into two main parts, the first being the separation of what can and what cannot be dealt with in relation to enforcement powers. Upon establishing that there is a remit for planning enforcement, the second part of the process explains how stakeholders should engage with the service, advising what information is crucial and/or helpful at the initiation of an investigation, and what stakeholders may expect thereafter in terms of service standards.
The current Charter has introduced Planning Impact Reports, which underpin confidence in the enforcement service through providing a formal way of assessing unauthorized development and providing a greater degree of certainty regarding the direction of the case. In doing so, they remove minor breaches from the system at an earlier stage, helping channel resources to where enforcement action is necessary.
In November 2019, Glasgow City Council's Planning Enforcement team received an award at the Scottish Government's 20th Annual Scottish Awards in Quality Planning for introducing Planning Impact Reports into its processes.
Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm at Glasgow City Council, said: "The city's new Planning Enforcement Charter will both make our enforcement powers more effective, and explain more clearly rights and responsibilities for everyone with an interest. This is an important step in ensuring that work without planning consent does not take place in Glasgow."
The Charter will now be submitted to the Scottish Government for approval.