Planning enforcement is a key service provided by the National Park Authority and teams have been busy throughout the lockdown period ensuring that approved plans and conditions are followed.
Site visits resumed in May with social distancing in place after a short, temporary pause.
Heather Lealan, Development Management Lead who oversees the enforcement function of the Authority, explained: “As one of the largest planning authorities in England working in a protected landscape, our enforcement remit is incredibly important.
“It’s an area of our work that the public rightly see as a vital service and we’ve worked extremely hard to ensure minimal disruption during the lockdown.
“I’m proud of the team’s efforts to go the extra mile during this testing period to ensure that planning and other environmental controls are enforced. Teams in our host authorities have also been crucial in making sure that we maintain a service of high standards.
“Effective and swift enforcement seeks to add value to the Special Qualities of the National Park as per the guidelines within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).”
We now look at some case studies of recent enforcement work by the Authority:
Two enforcement notices were served at an area of agricultural land in the Worthing area after two structures were put up without planning permission.
A notice was served for the siting of a structure the owner claimed to be a mobile home and did not require planning permission, while another was served for the erection of a 60-metre long tyre barrier.
Both of the enforcement notices were appealed and the subsequent appeals were dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate, which dismissed them and upheld the Enforcement notices.
The owner of the land has since compiled with both notices and removed both the mobile home and tyre barrier.
Following reports of a piece of agricultural land being sold off in lots in Fernhurst, an Article 4 notice was served. This removed the permitted development rights for the erection of any fences, gate and enclosures, thus requiring the land owners to seek planning permission for any future work.
The Authority served an Enforcement Notice in the Chichester District of the National Park for the importation of inert materials to engineer a bund as a means of enclosure for a field.
The reason for the Enforcement Notice was on the grounds of landscape and contamination concerns.
This Enforcement Notice was appealed and the SDNPA Officer provided information to the Planning Inspectorate that supported these concerns. Subsequently, the appeal was dismissed and the Inspector upheld the enforcement notice, the landowner has until the 27 September to remove the bund.
In 2018 Lewes District Council issued an enforcement notice on behalf of the SDNPA in relation to an alleged breach of planning control.
This was because investigations had shown that shooting of game birds for sport was taking place more frequently than the 28 days per year allowed under permitted development rights. It was considered that this caused noise and disturbance at odds with the enjoyment of the natural beauty and special qualities of the National Park by the public.
The owners of the farm appealed and an informal hearing took place 10 March, with the decision being issued on 29 April. Officers of Lewes District Council worked together with those of the SDNPA to defend the case.
The Inspector dismissed the appeal, concluding that while the shoot might conserve relative tranquillity in the area, it would not result in a positive enhancement to tranquillity as required by Policy SD7 of the South Downs Local Plan.
This decision is of note due to the Inspectors’ thorough application of Policy SD7 and as a demonstration of the successful joint working between the two authorities on planning matters.