Perth and Kinross Council has taken punitive action against developers over fewer than five per cent of the complaints it received about alleged unauthorised building work being carried out last year, according to figures seen by the Perthshire Advertiser.
The local authority said it received 210 separate complaints in 2020 claiming unauthorised development was taking place either without permission or in breach of planning conditions in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
But according to a list showing how many times PKC has taken enforcement action against developers requiring remedial works to be carried out, its officers only served legal papers eight times over the period.
The council’s response to our FoI request said it received 146 separate complaints about alleged unauthorised work seemingly unrelated to any planning permission granted by the local authority, and a further 64 complaints about unauthorised work believed to be directly associated with agreed planning consents.
Asked to break down the first batch of complaints by ward area, PKC said it received 17 in Strathtay, the same in Perth City South, 15 in the Carse of Gowrie, 14 in Strathmore and 13 in the Highland area.
The council said another 13 complaints were made about work in Kinross-shire, 11 more were about work in Perth City North, another 10 related to Perth City Centre, a further 10 related to Strathearn and the rest came from the remaining three wards - Blairgowrie and Glens, Almond and Earn and Strathallan.
Asked to break down the second batch of complaints PKC said it received 11 reports of planning conditions being breached in Strathmore, 10 in Kinross-shire, seven in Highland, six in both Perth City South and Almond and Earn, five in Blairgowrie and the Glens and fewer than five in the rest of the remaining wards.
The council added that at the time it responded to our FoI request its officers were still investigating 46 of the first batch of complaints and a further 26 of the second batch.
Asked to provide details of each time the local authority upheld a complaint and took enforcement action against developers, PKC pointed to its online register of formal notices served on developers.
The list appears to show PKC only found five developers had carried out work without permission following investigations last year. The list also appears to show PKC only found two companies had breached planning conditions last year and that just one individual had changed the use of a site without permission in that time.
A council spokesperson commented this week: “As a result of investigating complaints about planning breaches, we may uphold the issues being raised and take action in cases as appropriate, but this may not lead to formal action being taken (e.g. serving an enforcement notice).
“At the end of investigations our planning enforcement team prepares closing reports which may, for example, state there was a breach but no formal action is proposed, or that informal negotiation has resolved the breach.
“This assessment and outcome of a breach of planning is made on a case by case basis.”