The National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE) held its fifth annual conference last month at Fred Perry House, thanks to the generosity of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. This year's sponsors - 12 College Place and Landmark Chambers - provided superb speakers throughout the day.
Stockport councillor Lennie Grice welcomed delegates before NAPE chair Sue Taylor gave the annual review. Taylor outlined an exciting opportunity for non-Royal Town Planning Institute NAPE members, who will be the first group to be able to apply for the new RTPI affiliate membership category.
RTPI president Richard Summers gave the keynote address on "taking enforcement seriously". Talking of the Localism Bill and his commitment "not to tolerate criticism of professional planning", he stated his view that generic enforcement teams do not provide the specialist skills needed and that an "integrated planning system will fall apart if plan-making and decision-making are left on their own".
The president finished by presenting RTPI honorary membership to Taylor for her significant contribution to planning.
She said: "I am obviously thrilled at being elected an honorary member, but I think it is only proper to see this as recognition of the work of planning enforcement officers up and down the country. Not only is enforcement an integral part of the planning process but it is perhaps the most visible part to the public.
"As Bob Neill MP said at last year's NAPE conference, planning enforcement is a tough job and enforcement officers are the 'unsung heroes of planning'. Well, I hope that the honorary membership will help to ensure that our voice is heard a bit more loudly!"
The delegates were also treated to a presentation from Scott Stemp of 12 College Place on "enforcement post-localism". Richard Langham of Landmark then discussed "enforcement by injunction" and Charles Mynors of Francis Taylor Buildings gave a view on "listed buildings, trees and advertisements - current developments and useful information".
Delegates then attended one of three seminars held by Stemp, Joanne Fisher of English Heritage and Simon Pickles from Landmark. The day concluded with presentations from Peter Towler of 12 College Place on "the enforcement process: options for local authorities" and Saira Kabir Sheikh from Francis Taylor Buildings on "Gypsies and travellers".
Carl Mellor is NAPE's management committee member for the Midlands. He is principal planning officer - enforcement at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Working in planning enforcement? Find out more about NAPE by visiting www.rtpi.org.uk/nape