New online planning enforcement tool
South Somerset District Council have signalled the launch of a new online planning enforcement reporting tool and they hope that the following information will be of use if someone needs to make an enforcement complaint or is seeking guidance on making such a complaint.
The new online form replaces the word document and email process that did exist during a transition period. The new online form requires the complainant to have an SSDC Online Account which is easy to set up; once set up the account allows the complaint and any further complaints to be pre-populated with appropriate details and verified so that interactions with the Council can be tracked. Any complaint remains confidential. Enforcement complaints will be dealt with in accordance with the emerging Enforcement Protocol which has been out for public consultation and will now be presented to the District Executive on 4 June. The agenda will appear here http://modgov.southsomerset.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=136&Year=0
The new ‘report a breach’ form and update web content is viewable via this link https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/services/planning/report-a-planning-breach-and-planning-enforcement/
Deputy Clerk to Milborne Port Parish Council
This monograph is written to clarify the Parish Council’s responsibility with regards to planning applications in the Parish as there is often confusion within the village as to “who does what”.
Parish Council responsibilities with regard to planning applications.
South Somerset District Council is the Planning Authority (Not Somerset County Council or the Parish Council) and so is the responsible authorirty for the approval or rejection of planning applications.
The Parish Council are consulted on all planning applications within the Parish on the same basis as individual neighbours to any single application are consulted.
The Parish Council has no authority to reject or approve applications.
If the Parish Council wishes to object to any application, it must consider whether its objection is based upon “material” or “non-material” considerations. If the Parish Council makes objections that are non-material or because members of the electorate are attempting to sway the council outside material considerations, it risks its comments being ignored for individual applications and its viewpoint not being taken seriously in the long term.
The Council has, therefore, to consider what it believes to be in the best interests of the Parish as a whole, recognising that change is part of the fabric of life and the concept of a rural idyll is unsustainable in the same way that living without telephone, internet and modern transportation systems is not practical. By the same token, it must recognise that many residents have chosen to live here because of its character as a village, not a town.
The Parish Council will, however, always acknowledge in its response to planning applications, any strong feelings represented to it by village residents.
These are stated below. It is clear that most of these contain an element of judgement for consideration and only a few can be determined scientifically or absolutely. Material considerations are:
- Design and appearance of the structure being considered
- Visual Impact
- Conservation impact
- Access to the structure and parking arrangements
- Flood risk to the structure or created by it
- Protected species (bats etc.)
Five-year housing supply
Most contention with regards to planning comes from planning applications to build new houses. The district council are charged by central government to providing a forward plan for housing needs in the area and trying to ensure that this supply is met. Over recent years, South Somerset, has been unable to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply, and this has meant that the District Council have been required to allow applications unless there have been strong material considerations against individual proposals. However, in 2020, South Somerset indicated that they now had over six years of housing supply. This means that applications will, in addition to having to avoid material considerations that would prevent them going forward, also have to comply with the South Somerset Local Plan, which places additional requirements and policies around the numbers, locations, and type of developments in the District.