Planning enforcement

We can apply enforcement powers when there is a failure to comply with planning regulations.

These are discretionary powers and we are only able to use them when it is proportionate to do so according to planning policies and law.

The main areas where enforcement may apply are:

  • Carrying out building works either without planning permission or in a way that is significantly different from what has been granted planning permission.
  • Failing to comply with planning conditions attached to planning permissions.
  • Changes of use of land or buildings either without planning permission or in a way that is significantly different from what has been granted planning permission.
  • Unauthorised advertisements
  • Works on listed buildings
  • Untidy land and buildings
  • Works to or the removal of a protected tree

A breach of planning is not a criminal offence, however, if we serve a formal enforcement notice, failure to comply with the terms of the notice is a criminal offence. 

Report a breach

If you suspect a breach of planning control has taken place, please report it to us. Please note that the Authority will not accept or investigate anonymous complaints.

Report a possible breach of planning control >

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We will need to know:

  • The full address and post code of the site
  • Full details of the activities that concern you
  • When the activities started
  • If known, the names and addresses of any owners, occupiers or companies involved

Whilst the council will initially keep your complaint confidential, it may be necessary to disclose it if the matter reaches an appeal or goes to court.

What happens after a complaint has been made?

On receiving a valid complaint fully supported by the appropriate evidence we will:

  • Register the complaint in the Council’s Enforcement System
  • Acknowledge the complaint in writing within 5 working days from receipt (by email where the address is provided), providing:
    • The Enforcement Case reference number.
    • The name and contact details of the investigating Enforcement Officer.

Further information about the enforcement service provided is available in our Planning Enforcement Charter.

What happens if there is a breach of planning control?

Enforcement action is discretionary.  Not all breaches of planning control will result in formal action being taken; each case has to be considered on its own merits, having regard to the local and national planning policies and other material considerations, in the same way as a planning application.

If it is likely that the development would have been granted planning permission, no action will be taken. If parts or all of the development are unacceptable, an ‘enforcement notice’ will be served. The perpetrator will have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the notice, but if that fails, he will have to comply with the requirements of the notice, or face prosecution.