Planning enforcement

How to make an enforcement complaint

If you suspect that there has been a breach of planning control that we need to investigate please contact us in writing or by email.  Please remember your complaint will be dealt with in confidence.  We cannot initiate an investigation without written evidence.

The following information must be provided

  • the address of where the suspected breach of planning control is taking place 
  • details of what the suspected breach of planning control is e.g. building works, change of use of a building or land, unauthorised works to a listed building or non compliance with planning conditions attached to a planning permission.

It will also help if you can provide

  • details of the owners, occupiers or builders etc. who may be responsible for the suspected breach
  • when the suspected breach began - it may help to keep a diary of significant events
  • how you are affected by the suspected breach
  • any relevant planning application or appeal references

How do we assess what action is necessary?

When a complaint is received, we check whether any permission is needed.

If the work does not need planning permission, or if permission has been granted and planning law has not been broken, we cannot take enforcement action.  

If work has been done without the necessary permission, the Government recommends that we should try to negotiate a satisfactory solution before we start more formal action.  Sometimes, the problem can be solved by an alteration of the work or the submission of a retrospective application.

If negotiation fails, we are legally required to consider the expediency of taking enforcement action.  Enforcement powers are discretionary and would only be taken if it is believed that the development is causing harm and in all cases must be commensurate with the breach of planning control to which it relates.

If a breach is detected it would not necessarily be expedient to implement immediate measures to stop the work as this would be subject to other policies, mitigating factors and legal advice.

What enforcement action is taken?

There are various powers available to us and the action we choose to take will depend on the type of offence and the harm it causes.

Planning enforcement notices are served on anyone with an interest in the land.  The notice will allow an adequate period of time for the problem to be resolved.  Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is an offence and may be subject to a fine.  The council also has powers to take direct action in certain circumstances, and recover the costs from the property owner.