Council vows to use new Government cash to tackle illegal developments on green belt in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth. Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council has said it will use a new grant to help take a more proactive approach on planning breaches.

Earlier this month, Housing Minister Esther McVey announced that a number of councils were to benefit from a slice of nearly £2million to crack down on illegal developments on the nation’s green belt.

The Planning Delivery Fund is a one-off cash boost to assist with the costs of tackling unauthorised development in areas with significant swathes of green-belt land.

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Local authorities will be able to use the money to hire more enforcement officers, introduce the latest technology and help meet the legal costs of bringing rogue developers to task.

Northumberland was awarded £40,000 and was the only council in the North East among the 37 nationally to be chosen (successful authorities have been awarded up to £50,000).

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “We welcome this latest funding announcement.

“Over recent months, we’ve been working closely with parish councils to understand how we can use the planning system to address local issues.

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“Common concerns have been to better understand how we make decisions on enforcement cases and a desire to see more a more proactive approach to tackling breaches of planning control.

“We will be using this funding to help us with this, which will ultimately help our communities at a very local level.”

Alongside the cash boost for councils, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is teaming up with the Royal Town Planning Institute to overhaul the national enforcement handbook.

The updated handbook will provide the latest best practice and expertise on shutting down illegal building and preventing it from happening, while ensuring developers obtain full planning permission before a shovel hits the ground.

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Ms McVey said: “Once the green belt is built on, it’s often gone for good, that’s why we are determined to protect it. The public in the North East have told us loud and clear they want it kept for future generations to enjoy.

“The funding will help councils like Northumberland clamp down on rogue developers, giving the areas with the highest levels of green belt the funds needed to punish those who build illegally.”