People are being allowed to ride roughshod over planning rules in the Bradford district, a senior councillor has warned.
Councillor Howard Middleton, who sits on the Bradford Area Planning Panel, said all too often the Council was turning a blind eye to planning breaches, and that this was having a “corrosive” effect on public faith in the system.
He spoke out after a planning meeting yesterday, where nearly half of the applications on the agenda were being made retrospectively.
After the meeting, Councillor Middleton (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe), said: “We are not as strict in terms of enforcement as other areas like Leeds or Craven.”
He said time and time again, people were building what they liked, then applying for retrospective permission if they ran into trouble.
He said: “It is corrosive. It almost means people don’t feel like following the rules because there is no reason to do so.”
But Councillor Val Slater (Lab), executive member for planning, disagreed. She said Bradford planning department’s performance was rated in the country’s top quartile.
She said: “The reason there will be so many retrospective planning applications is because people doing things without permission have been picked up – that is the first stage of enforcement.”
Last year, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed that planning enforcement officers were taking action against fewer breaches, despite a rise in complaints.
They received 1,349 complaints about possible breaches of planning rules in 2012/13, but served just 82 enforcement notices.
Coun Slater said budget cuts had affected what they could do.
She said: “The number of cases we have coming through has risen, but we do have fewer staff. That is one of the results of the swingeing cuts that have come through from government, and we do have to prioritise what we can enforce.”
At the meeting yesterday, the panel was considering a retrospective application in Ransdale Road, Little Horton, Bradford, which prompted Coun Middleton to speak out.
The application was to turn a barber’s shop into a grocery shop and butcher’s, which had already happened, and at the same time legitimise some unauthorised security shutters. While the change of use wasn’t posing a problem, the panel were not happy with the shutters.