Leeds: ‘Clamp down on planning rogues’

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Council bosses have pledged to clamp down on rogue extensions and other planning breaches after claims that current enforcement action is not good enough.

The matter was raised at yesterday’s (April 1) full council meeting at Leeds Civic Hall by Beeston councillor Angela Gabriel, who cited a string of problems in her local area which were frustrating locals and unfairly making parts of the neighbourhood look neglected.

I feel that we as a community deserve a decent service from planning and from enforcement.

Incidents included walls built without permission, unauthorised shop frontages and problems caused by a temporary road closure.

She claimed emails and phone calls went unanswered and responses from council officers to complaints, when they were given, were often “glib”.

She told council colleagues: “I feel that we as a community deserve a decent service from planning and from enforcement. They need to grow teeth, act quicker and ensure that people abide by the law.”

Coun Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for planning, acknowledged there was a “challenge” to be met and elements of the system were “not robust enough”. However he also stressed 
that the authority already carries out strong enforcement action, despite having finite resources.

He said that from October to December last year, Leeds City Council issued 23 enforcement notices for unauthorised building work and other planning offences. He compared this to just one warning issued in Manchester, one in Liverpool and one in Newcastle in the same period.

“Our relationship with planning services is better than it has ever been, but it is still not robust enough, effective enough or good enough. I accept that challenge. There is more to be done.”