Planning Enforcement Services
receives a large number of planning complaints every year, many of
which require extensive investigation. Complaints are dealt with in
order of priority. The Council has a Planning Enforcement Strategy
which explains in detail how priorities are reached, the types of
formal action which may be taken, when it may be taken and our
The Officers of the Planning Service are readily available to
provide information and advice. Please remember your co-operation
may be necessary to enable the Officers to provide an efficient and
meaningful enforcement service.
The planning system is not designed to protect the interests
of one person over another therefore the Council has an equal duty
to both a complainant and the alleged offender and must address any
issue fairly and without bias.
We aim to resolve breaches of planning control, where
possible, without the need for formal enforcement
proceedings. When considering breaches of Planning Control
the Council will look at whether the development complies with
Local Plan Policies, Supplementary Planning Guidance and/or is
acceptable on its planning merits.
Complainants should be aware that, for a variety of reasons,
it may not be appropriate to take action in every case. Action will
not necessarily be taken simply because a breach of planning
control has occurred and will only be taken where it is identified
that a breach causes significant harm to the area. Government
guidelines indicate that enforcement action should only be taken
when the breach is unacceptable on planning grounds. The reason for
this is that lengthy and expensive legal action to deal with a
matter which would ultimately obtain planning permission would be a
misdirection of public funds.
Breaches of Planning Control
A breach of planning control is:-
- The use of land or the carrying out of development without the
- Failing to comply with any condition or limitation of planning
If you Consider a Breach of Planning Control has
You can submit a request for investigation. Your complaint
must be in writing on the required form which can be downloaded
from the Planning Forms page link below.
The Council can only proceed with enforcement action where
there has been a confirmed breach of control. We often cannot help
with unconfirmed reports that work may be about to take
All Planning Enforcement complaints are confidential. Your
name and address will not be released without your permission.
However, if the matter about which you have complained becomes the
subject of a planning application any representations you make on
that application will become part of the public record.
If you are 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 who can then contact
us confidentially on your behalf.
What The Council Will Do
- We aim to acknowledge your complaint in writing within three
working days of receipt.
- The planning history of the site will be checked and if the
alleged breach does not require permission or has obtained
approval, you will be notified accordingly.
- If a possible breach has occurred an investigation will be made
and the Council will decide if enforcement action is
- If further action is to be taken the Council will normally
allow a suitable period for remedial action to be taken. If
appropriate the submission of a retrospective application for
consideration can be made.
- Additional time may be allowed when there is a clear intent
demonstrated to remedy the situation.
- If the matter cannot be resolved by negotiation then formal
action will be considered.
Formal action is usually the issue of a notice which require
the provision of information, works to be carried out or an
activity to stop in order to remedy a breach of planning control.
When a notice is served the requirements of the notice must be
complied with. Where appropriate an appeal can be made
against the notice. If an appeal is lodged, the enforcement notice
does not take effect until an independent planning inspector gives
a decision upon the matter, which can take a number of
months. Details of how to make an appeal can be found on the
In order to successfully prosecute an enforcement notice
evidence to the Courts is vitally important, and occasionally this
can only be provided by persons directly affected by the
Breaches of planning control are not generally illegal but
there are some cases which constitute an offence actionable in the
Courts, such as:-
- Non compliance with a formal notice
- Unauthorised works to a Listed Building
- Display of unauthorised signs
- Unauthorised work to a tree which is the subject of a
- Unauthorised work to a tree in a Conservation Area
- Obstructing an officer in the execution of his duty
If the offence is of such a serious nature, the Council will
exercise its right to pursue a prosecution. The Council will not
condone wilful breaches of planning legislation and will exercise
its discretion to take, when expedient, appropriate enforcement
action. In some cases it may even be necessary for a building to be
The registers of Enforcement Notices, Stop Notices and
Breach of Condition Notices can be viewed on the Planning Enforcements Registers
at the Planning Offices.
If You Are Not Happy With The Way The Matter Has Been
The Council has its own complaints procedure or you can report
the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.
These procedures refer only to the manner in which the
complaint has been dealt with, they cannot change a decision simply
because you do not agree with it.
Enforcement of the Building Regulations
Building Regulations deal with the structural aspects of
construction and often raise areas, which are different and quite
separate from the enforcement of planning control. For further
information please contact the Building Standards Consultancy
- Requests for Investigation forms may be
downloaded from the Planning Forms page