JUST one enforcement worker is responsible for tackling Mid Devon’s 300 planning breaches as the council finds it hard to recruit staff.

The issue of planning enforcement was raised at a recent district council meeting where councillors debated whether to allow a barn to be used as a wedding venue.

The scheme, at Pirzwell Ponds near Kentisbeare, was eventually approved, but councillors discussed whether to impose conditions to appease concerned local residents.

The notion was that if stricter restrictions were attached to the application, then enforcement action could be launched if these were not adhered to.


But Councillor Rachel Gilmour (Lib Dem, Clare and Shuttern) suggested that relying on enforcement could be self-defeating.

“We have one enforcement officer who is inundated with problems, so is it a good idea to cause problems for ourselves when we can’t enforce what we need to,” she said.

A council officer at the meeting highlighted that an application couldn’t be refused because of too few planning enforcement officers, if it met other planning requirements.

A council spokesperson said the planning enforcement service “consistently runs with a case load of around 300 cases”, and that this had “not changed significantly” from earlier years.

They say the council prioritises high-risk cases, and that it did not expect to be able to recruit another planning enforcement officer soon.

“The council has one vacancy in its establishment and it is not expecting to fill this role immediately,” the spokesperson said.

“The council is, however, using spare capacity from within the wider planning service in order to support planning enforcement activity within the district.

“It is also worth noting that it is extremely difficult to recruit planning enforcement specialists and that this issue is also experienced amongst other planning authorities – both locally and in the wider region.”

Bradley Gerrard