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Generic enforcement teams not a step in the right direction, say planning enforcement officers

17 November 2008

100 planning enforcement officers have criticised the role of generic enforcement teams in local authorities at the second annual National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE) conference held in Birmingham last Wednesday (12th November).

Leslie Smith, NAPE Chair, said many conference attendees were of the view that generic enforcement teams in local authorities, whilst seeming initially attractive, do not work and should be resisted. In commenting he said;

\"Generic enforcement teams, by definition, carry out or purport to carry out all the enforcement functions of the local authority. As such they are often located in the regulatory services division of a council. Such teams dilute the effectiveness of planning enforcement officers, especially in the case of investigating breaches of planning control, by engaging them in other enforcement matters for which they have little knowledge or training. In such authorities the burden of taking action is then passed back to the development control officers.

\"A specialist team provides greater benefit as it places the emphasis on the function, for example planning enforcement and the team members are normally located with other professionals working in that area of expertise.\"

The conference sponsored by No. 5 Chambers, attracted attendees with experience from both management consultants who proposed generic enforcement teams in local authorities and those who work in authorities where such teams exist.

Other key issues raised and discussed included the need for further professionalism in planning enforcement, including co-operation with other enforcement professionals and heritage professionals, condition monitoring and recognising the role of enforcement as a key component of planning.

The purpose of the National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE), launched June 2006, is to promote and enhance the role of planning enforcement within the planning profession. NAPE acts as a representative body, working on a national, regional and local level to promote, support and encourage the sharing of good practice and professional development.