What is planning enforcement?
As part of development control, it is our job to deal with breaches of planning control and investigate complaints about unauthorised development.
- If you go ahead with your development without the required permission, we may ask you to make a retrospective planning application
- If we decide that your development isn’t allowed, we may tell you to put things back as they were
- You can appeal but, if you lose your appeal and still refuse to comply, you may be prosecuted
What is a breach of planning control?
A breach of planning control is:
- The use of land or the carrying out of development without the permission you need
- Failing to follow conditions or limitations of your planning permission
How do I report a breach?
If you think a breach of planning control has occurred, please:
- Check our Enforcement guidance notes
- Send us a request for investigation by completing and returning the Planning enforcement request for service form
We can only proceed with enforcement action where there has been a confirmed breach of control. We often can’t help with unconfirmed reports that work may be about to take place.
All complaints are confidential and your name and address will not be released without your permission. It’s important to know that if we receive a retrospective planning application, your comments will become part of the public record.
If you’re concerned for your safety, or for personal reasons you do not wish to give your name and address, you may prefer to report the matter to your elected Councillor. They can then contact us confidentially on your behalf.
What will you do, once I report a breach?
- We’ll check the planning history of the site. If the alleged breach does not require permission (or has approval), we will let you know.
- If a possible breach has occurred, we will investigate and decide if we need to take action
- If we need to take further action, we allow time for the person to put things right. This might include them sending us a retrospective planning application.
- We are likely to give them more time if they can prove to us that they’re trying to solve the situation
- If the matter can’t be resolved by negotiation then we consider formal action
What is Formal action?
Formal action is usually a notice asking for something to happen to solve the breach of planning control. We may ask for:
- Specific work to be carried out
- Activity to stop
When a notice is served, the notice must be obeyed.
Can I appeal against formal action?
Sometimes, an appeal can be made against the notice. In this situation, the enforcement notice does not take effect until an independent planning inspector makes a decision – this can take a few months.
You can make an appeal on our Planning Portal.
How are enforcement notices prosecuted?
To successfully prosecute, the Courts need as much evidence as possible. Sometimes, this evidence can only be provided by people who are directly affected by the breach.
Breaches of planning control are not generally illegal but it’s likely someone will be taken to court if they:
- Have not obeyed a formal notice
- Have done unauthorised work to a Listed Building
- Display unauthorised signs
- Have done unauthorised work to a tree which has a Preservation Order
- Have done unauthorised work to a tree in a Conservation Area
- Prevented an officer from doing his/her job
If the offence is serious, we can prosecute. In some cases, it may even be necessary for a building to be demolished.