Mr Pickles is writing to all Local Authority Chief Planners to warn them to be on alert and ready for action if any significant planning applications get submitted before the bank holiday.
In the past some people have used extended weekends to put in last minute applications to their council on the Friday. They then spend the extended weekend illegally developing the land, for example cutting down protected trees or laying concrete driveways. These developments are often at quite an advanced stage by the time council planning officers return after the holiday and are able to call a temporary halt on activity.
Rapid enforcement action
Mr Pickles is encouraging councils to have planning officers on call over the weekend, ready to deal with last minute applications and take rapid enforcement action against any unauthorised development. This will also help reduce the volume of retrospective planning applications, which are expensive for the taxpayer, put an unnecessary strain on the planning system and are not fair to the vast majority of people who play by the rules.
Mr Pickles said:
This new coalition government will not stand back and allow a small minority of people to deliberately exploit the extended weekend and planning procedure to carry out unauthorised developments.
That’s why I’m calling on councils to take precautionary measures and make sure that they have planning officers ready to deal with any planning applications submitted over the weekend.
We want to ensure fair play in the planning system and as part of this we will be strengthening the powers of councils to tackle unauthorised development.