A committee is calling for evidence following calls by Ramsey MHK Lawrie Hooper to investigate planning policy.

Chairman of the policy review committee Rob Callister MHK has confirmed the committee is going to conduct an inquiry into the operation of the planning system, with particular reference to planning enforcement.

Mr Hooper had called for the committee to look into planning policy as he says the Department of Environment Food and Agriculture has not been enforcing its own rules for applications.

Mr Hooper told the Examiner that while he has issues with the planning system as a whole, he is specifically looking at the area of enforcement.

He said: ’There are other concerns that other people are raising so residents losing interested party status for example but this is specifically about enforcement and my concern is that they don’t enforce planning at all.

’It started with a constituent approaching me saying “someone has put something up and I don’t think they should’ve done it”.’

He added that the constituent explained they’d put a complaint into DEFA which had taken ’months for something that should be straightforward to resolve’.

Mr Hooper’s concerns were shared with several other backbench MHKs with his Ramsey colleague Dr Alex Allinson, Liberal Vannin leader Kate Beecroft, Garff MHK Daphne Caine and Juan Watterson SHK all signing his letter to Mr Callister last month.

In the letter, Mr Hooper outlined several reasons for his seeking the committee to look into planning, including ’an apparently unwillingness to take enforcement action’.

The letter cites questions answered by DEFA Minister Geoffrey Boot MHK, which stated that 20% of cases were closed ’as it was not expedient to take enforcement action’.

He added that a ’lack of appeal process over decisions not to take enforcement actions’, ’a failure to take seriously the question of the impact of the amenity of neighbouring properties’ and ’a policy of non-enforcement for planning breaches categorised by the department as “low priority”’.

On that last occasion, in November 2018, Mr Boot told the Keys :’I think that it will ever be thus’.

Since Mr Callister confirmed the committee would be looking into planning enforcement, the Clerk of Tynwald’s office has called for evidence of problems with the policy.

The deadline for submissions to the committee, which also includes Clare Bettison MHK, and Chris Robertshaw MHK is Friday, February 15.

Submissions can be sent via post to Roger Phillips, Clerk of Tynwald, Legislative Buildings, Douglas, IM1 3PW.

Alternatively email your submission to committees@tynwald.org.im

Source: IoMToday