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Planning enforcement

What is planning enforcement?

Planning enforcement is a process to investigate cases where planning control may have been breached. We are required by law to investigate all reported planning breaches. However taking action is discretionary and we can decide how we deal with them.

In the first instance we will attempt to find a solution which removes or reduces any impacts of a breach without resorting to the use of formal enforcement action. However we will use appropriate measures including formal notices and court action where harmful breaches continue.  

Common breaches of planning control

  • unauthorised building or engineering works
  • unauthorised works being carried out on a listed building
  • material changes of use of land or buildings to a different use
  • development that has not been carried out in accordance with planning permission
  • failure to comply with a condition related to planning permission
  • unauthorised work to protected trees
  • display of advertisements without the required consent
  • untidy land

What we can't investigate

  • boundary disputes, such as party wall matters, trespass or property damage as these are civil matters
  • construction vehicles using or parking on the public highway (any matters regarding dangerous driving or obstruction is dealt with by the police.)
  • unsafe building work on construction sites
  • building issues relating to building standards
  • clearing land of bushes and trees (unless they are protected)
  • enforcement of private covenants
  • anticipated breaches (we can't act before a breach happens)

If any of the above or other non-planning relates issues are reported to us we will notify you that we will not be taking them any further and they will be passed on to the appropriate department where possible.  

How do I report an issue?

We are unable to take reports which are anonymous. If you are uncomfortable about submitting a report you can contact your local councillor to make the report on your behalf.

Report a planning issue 

What happens next?

Once your report has been deemed to be a planning issue, you will receive an acknowledgement that a case has been created and is now waiting allocation to an officer. You will also receive a reference number which you should quote in any future correspondence. 

Due to the large number of reports that we receive each year we prioritise those cases where the impacts are significant and widely felt. 

Next steps

Once your case has been picked up by an officer, they will undertake an initial investigation which may include a site visit. They may contact you for further information or to arrange a visit to see the development from your property.

The officer will decide whether the case warrants further action and will update you with their decision. In some cases we may decide that no action is necessary if we consider that there is no serious harm to the environment, public safety or neighbours' amenity.  

Should further action be required we will look to make contact with the land owner or developer to discuss any works or action required to remedy any harm arising from the breach. In some cases a retrospective planning application may be submitted which if approved, enables us to attach conditions to control any impacts of the development.

Formal action will start when a breach of planning control unacceptably harms local amenities and cannot be resolved by negotiation, especially where any harm is ongoing and/or potentially irreversible. If formal action is necessary, due to the complexities of planning law, it can take some time to resolve cases.

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