When development takes place without permission the Council has a full range of enforcement powers available to it to establish whether a breach of planning control has taken place, what harm is caused as a result of the breach and how to remedy the situation.
Most breaches of the planning rules are brought to our attention by neighbours or as we monitor development under way. There is a procedure established for investigating such complaints.
- Allegations that development has been carried out without planning permission will be recorded individually. We will acknowledge any complaint made in writing within three working days of receiving it.
- Investigation will begin as soon as possible although priority will be given to those alleged breaches, such as unauthorised works to a listed building, which need to be dealt with quickly before work becomes too advanced. Priority 1 cases, such as this, will be visited within three days. Other cases will be visited within 21 days.
- If the investigation shows that no breach of planning control has taken place the complainant will be informed.
- Where it is not possible to find out whether a breach of planning control has taken place, we may issue a planning contravention notice requiring information on precisely what is taking place and an explanation as to why no planning permission has been sought.
- Where it is clear that a breach of planning control has taken place we may invite a planning application where we think planning permission is likely to be granted. This has the advantage of allowing us to get full details of the work that has taken place and consult neighbours before making a decision. It is also in line with Government advice. It may also be possible to make amendments or impose conditions which overcome the concerns of neighbours. Once an application has been submitted it will be treated on merit like any other application.
- If an application is not submitted, we will decide on the appropriate course of action. If, for instance, the unauthorised development is considered not to cause any harm, then enforcement action may not be appropriate.
- The name and address of any complainant will be kept confidential to the Council, although if you make representations on any subsequent planning application these will be available for the public to read.
- There are various courses of action available to enforcement officers, however the most common action is to use an Enforcement Notice. Enforcement Notices are documents served by the Council which require the use of the land to stop and / or any buildings or structures that do not have planning permission to be removed. The Council must find out the names of all the owners and occupiers of the property and make sure they are served a notice. The notice itself has to be precise as to what action the Council wants taken and by what date. There are rights of appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the notices can be challenged if they are inaccurate. Further advice and information is available from the Planning Portal website or see the links at the bottom of the page.
- When conditions imposed on a planning permission are being disregarded, the Council can serve a breach of Condition Notice on the developer or occupier. If this is not complied with, we can take legal action. There are no rights of appeal to the Secretary of State against a Breach of Condition Notice. Where appropriate the Council will use this procedure in preference to the service of Enforcement Notices.
- Once authorisation has been given to serve the notice we will advise the owner and / or occupier of the land affected in writing of the Council decision and give them an opportunity to cease the breach before the notices are served.
- The complainant will be informed when the enforcement notices are served, what action they require and when the period for compliance runs out.
- The complainant and neighbours will be advised of any appeal that is lodged against an enforcement notice and the grounds upon which the appeal has been made. They will then be able to make further comments to the planning inspector dealing with the case, although at this stage the names and addresses cannot be kept confidential.
- Arrangements to inspect the premises will be made by the officer dealing with the case once the compliance period runs out in order to find out whether the requirements of the enforcement notice have been satisfied.
- If the unauthorised development remains in place after the enforcement notices become effective the Council will start legal action as soon as possible and the complainant will be kept informed of the outcome of any prosecution. As a last resort the Council will consider carrying out works itself to remedy the breach.
- The Council has, in recent months, successfully prosecuted some 26 cases of breaches of planning regulations, for offences including unauthorised walls and house extensions, storage and repair of motor vehicles, display of advertisements, and use as a builders yard. The fines and costs imposed in some of these cases have exceeded ,000 and can reach 0,000.
Information on the progress of all enforcement matters is reported to the Planning Committee every quarter.
If you would like us to investigate a possible breach of the planning rules please complete our Online Enforcement Complaint Form Planning Enforcement Charter
The Planning Enforcement Charter leaflet at the bottom of the page is for anyone who has, or is considering making a complaint to the Council about a breach of the Planning Rules, or if someone has complained about you.
It explains what we can take action on, what you can expect from us if you make a complaint and the timescales involved.
This leaflet is for anyone who has, or is considering making a complaint to the Council about a breach of the Planning Rules, or if someone has complained about you.