Mansfield councillor calls on clampdown for planning applications

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A councillor is calling on Mansfield District Council to take a harsher line with applicants who start building before they seek planning permission.

Coun Philip Shields, who sits on the planning committee at the Civic Centre, is hoping to see a shift in policy to prevent retrospective applications being accepted in the future.

There has been 38 applications put before the committee in the last year in which the work on a property or land was carried out before any permission was sought.

Of those, 33 were approved by the council, including three out of the five items on the agenda at the most recent committee meeting.

At the meeting Coun shields flagged up the issue for each application and asked for his concern to be put on record.

All three applications were approved overwhelmingly by the committee members.

And Coun Shields believes it is sending out the wrong message to those seeking planning permission.

“We accept that there are errors because some people do not know what they need to apply for,” Coun Shields told Chad.

“But there are other cases when they only seek planning permission when they have either been reported to us, or when there are complaints made against them.

“Some don’t realise that if it gets turned down, it will cost that person to pull down what they have built and start again by going through the planning process.”

He says that some applicants to use aesthetic reasons or the promise of new employment to win favour, but insists the current success rate of retrospective applications means there is little incentive to apply first before starting the work.

He said: “There’s nearly a 90 per cent chance it will go through [looking at the retrospective applications accepted in the last year].

“People know the stats, they are being told the best thing to do is just build and then apply for planning permission, which is not right.

“The message we’re sending out is that we are a soft touch. Those who do it right are often penalised.

“It gets my goat when people do not apply for permission and know exactly what they are doing.

“I’m not sure what can be done but I believe that application should be turned down unless there’s a genuine reason.”