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Local context critical to planning enforcement, national conference hears

21 November 2017

2017 NAPE Annual Conference - John Shuttlewood Conference Photo Cropped

Planning enforcement officers must have a strong understanding of the local context they are working in to be effective, a national conference has heard. A wide variety of enforcement issues effect different localities and while officers can learn from cases in different places, understanding the local context is key.

The annual planning enforcement conference – held by the RTPI’s National Association of Planning Enforcement last week - identified a wide variation in institutional and resourcing structures of different enforcement teams across urban and rural locations. The need for a clear national legislative framework, however, was consistently identified by speakers as critical for successful enforcement in urban and rural locations and across the UK. In order to achieve more successful prosecutions and serve more airtight notices, calls were made from speakers, for a clearer legislative environment for enforcement to work within.

Speaker, Celina Colquhoun of No. 5 Chambers, looked at the enforcement of unauthorised mixed uses - a predominantly rural issue - and the legal complications that arise between both district and county level. While the distinctive legislative frameworks of the devolved nations was addressed by Neil Collar of Brodies LLP. He warned that the subtle differences in Scottish law, can have “huge ramifications” in the courts when an enforcement case is brought forward.

The conference heard about enforcement examples from across the UK. Delegates heard how examples of unauthorised caravan sites in Scotland were infrequent compared to the volume of cases south of the border. While in London, according to speakers, local authorities are predominantly occupied with the enforcement of illegal dwellings.

Planning enforcements role in sustainable development, the implications of new technologies such as Airbnb and the growing use of the Proceeds of Crime Act was also covered.

The National Association of Planning Enforcement’s (NAPE) Annual Conference, held this year in Edinburgh. It was attended by over 80 delegates and sponsored by No 5. Chambers and hosted by Edinburgh City Council.

See how the conference unfolded on Twitter: #RTPIenforcement