THE number of enforcement notices issued against people for breaching planning restructions has more than trebled, the Chronicle can reveal.
Barnsley is now ranked seventh in the list of local authorities dishing out formal notices to people who have breached regulations governing things such as building home extensions without appropriate permission to illegally siting caravans.
Just 13 enforcement notices were served in 2018 - which ranked Barnsley 78 out of 336 authorities - but it grew to 21 notices a year later.
The figure reduced to 19 in 2020 but it’s thought the pandemic saw residents chance their arm in 2021, when 59 were issued.
In the first quarter of 2022/23, 118 issues were investigated, with 78 remaining under consideration, prompting the creation of a new enforcement role due to the demand.
A council report said: “The service has made good progress progressing formal enforcement actions.
“There has been an increase year-on-year, particularly from 2020 when a second planning enforcement officer post was created which has given the service much-needed extra capacity and the resilience to respond and deal effectively with breaches of planning control.
“Barnsley now ranks seventh nationally in terms of the number of formal actions or notices served.
“Most cases received by the service are resolved through negotiation and contact with the parties concerned as per our service policy and some cases are low level or considered technical breaches of planning control where formal action would not be appropriate.
“Other cases can take several weeks to resolve as they may require interventions by the council and work with a variety of stakeholders, including the submission of retrospective planning applications to be considered.
“The service will also take swift and robust enforcement action to address breaches of planning control which are harmful and unacceptable.
“This can include ceasing works on site through the service of stop notices or preventing activities taking place at certain times of the day.”
One high-profile case was resolved in May when an enforcement notice was issued for an unlawful development on green belt land on Sandy Bridge Lane, Shafton, which first came to light in 2019.
The site’s owner had positioned two caravans for human habitation, stable blocks and outbuildings without correct permission, so had been instructed to return the land to how it once was.
Enforcement action had initially been delayed due to an appeal being lodged, something which was dismissed, but further setbacks were caused by periods of lockdown.
However, the council successfully served a new notice on May 13 and the owner has a six-month period from that date to address the issue.
“The Planning Inspectorate is taking on average 41 weeks to determine enforcement appeals by written representation and longer for matters considered under the informal hearing and public inquiry procedure,” the report added.
“These delays are leading to frustration for complainants, the council and those wishing to appeal enforcement notices.
“The Planning Inspectorate has advised us they are working to improve this performance by recruiting additional planning inspectors to deal with appeals.”