Planning & Environment

A reporter has upheld an enforcement notice served by Perth & Kinross Council for the removal of unauthorised decking from a rear garden in a suburban street. Nothing unusual in that.

However, when it received the appeal, the DPEA asked the Council to give notice of it to the “interested parties” and the Council did so.

Why is this of importance? There are no rules in law that provide for interested parties in an enforcement notice appeal. It is no longer possible for a reporter to grant planning permission in an enforcement notice appeal so there’s no need to notify neighbours. So what made the DPEA think there were or could be interested parties? How did the council determine who the interested parties were? No indication is given in the case papers published.

An enforcement notice is fundamentally a matter between the planning authority, the person on whom it is served and, at appeal, the reporter (or Scottish Ministers). Third parties might be asked by a reporter for evidence, but it is difficult to see what place they would have to make submissions. Allowing them to do so is effectively adding another prosecutor: either they will chorus the planning authority’s line, or they introduce new material irrelevant to the planning authority’s decision to take enforcement action, to which the person on whom the notice is served must decide whether to give an answer – that’s hardly fair.

I’ve seen a similar approach in another enforcement notice appeal I’ve handled. If the DPEA are going to allow third parties in, they should at least let us know the rules under which third parties are identified and will take part.

Planning & Environment