In the council’s upcoming budget Lib Dem councillors are proposing an enlargement of the council’s Planning Enforcement team in the city in order to catch up with the backlog and to provide a more assertive approach to checking compliance in longer term.
Council figures published today by the Lib Dems show that 194 complaints were actioned last year, but a further 195 were unactioned at year end and a similar backlog existed throughout the year.
Daniel Lee, Lib Dem city councillor for Queen Edith’s ward said:
"In a compact and developed city like Cambridge, the protection of residential amenity and the character of neighbourhoods is really important. Where planning permission is obtained, it ought to be prized and followed to the letter. But with the city's high development pressure things can happen fast and if they shouldn’t be happening, they are often hard to reverse. We need the council to be up to this challenge.
"I get reports of residents whose lives have been disrupted by construction work going on outside agreed hours. I hear of others whose home or garden has been impacted by building on a adjoining property in a way that wasn’t authorised by their permission. Others become afflicted by a neighbouring residential home becoming switched into visitor accommodation resulting in considerable nuisance. In all of these situations we need Planning Enforcement to be promptly on the case and in some of them, not waiting for complaints in order to act.
"The planning system is there to control and shape the way the city evolves, not always to stop it. The council’s decision-taking is typically painstaking, but it has a responsibility to follow through and ensure that its permissions - and what it does not permit - are respected. The enforcement team does a great job, but don’t simply don’t have the resources they need."
The Lib Dems are proposing an additional Planning Enforcement Officer is added to the team working in the city in order to clear the backlog of cases and to establish a proactive programme that is not purely dependent on complaints.