Planning enforcement

Our planning enforcement team can investigate possible infringements of planning control such as; 

  • Building work, engineering operations and changes of use of land or buildings that require planning permission, but for which planning permission has not been obtained.
  • Development that has planning permission but is not carried out as approved 
  • Failure to comply with the conditions of a planning permission 
  • Works carried out to a Listed building without consent 
  • Removal or pruning of protected trees and hedgerows without consent 
  • Advertisements which require express consent under the Advertisement Regulations, but which are displayed without consent 
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of existing planning legal notices, such as enforcement notices and breach of condition notices
  • Untidy Land which is causing harm to the amenity of an area.

Report a planning infringement

If you would like us to investigate a possible infringement of the planning rules, you can report a planning infringement online.

Report a planning infringement online

All personal details are confidential and will not be made public while dealing with the complaint. However, on rare occasions, with serious breaches of planning control which result in an appeal, we are required to give the Planning Inspector and the appellant details of the complaint, which will include your name and address.

You may also be invited to provide a witness statement to support your complaint and to help us, but this is voluntary.

Unless you have a special reason for not giving your details (which you have explained to an enforcement officer), anonymous complaints will not be investigated. 

Our investigation

When we receive a request to investigate an alleged breach of planning control, we decide what priority should be given to the matter.

Urgent matters would include:

  • Unauthorised work to a Listed Building or protected tree.
  • Non compliance with existing enforcement notices.
  • Time limited enforcement action.

Following an investigation, which will normally include research into the background of a case and a site visit, a decision will be made as to whether or not further action needs to be taken.

Click one of the headings below to find out about the enforcement or informal action that can be taken;

Taking enforcement action

Enforcement action should only take place when it is absolutely necessary and all other means of resolving the issue have failed.

If the Planning Compliance Team are unsuccessful in their negotiations, the matter will be reviewed by a senior officer to decide whether more formal action should be considered. The final decision to take further action will be taken following consultation with relevant Council Members.

If it is necessary to take enforcement action, then the following can be issued;

  • A planning contravention notice, which will require the owner or occupier of land to give us further information about activities and ownership of the land. This is the first step towards formal enforcement action. 
  • An enforcement notice, saying how somebody may have breached planning control, what needs to be done to put things right, and when this needs to be done by. 
  • A breach of condition notice if somebody fails to keep to a condition attached to a planning permission, for example, what time a takeaway must close. 
  • An untidy land notice (Section 215 notice). These may be served where we have clear evidence untidy land or buildings are harming the amenity of an area.

If the requirements of an enforcement notice or breach of condition notice have not been complied with by the due date, the Planning Compliance Team will go on to pursue prosecution in the Courts, including seeking an injunction in the most persistent and harmful cases

Taking informal action

If the work needs planning permission but appears to meet the objectives of our development plan policies, we will normally ask interested parties to make a planning application to retain the development so the matter can be considered formally, and neighbours can be asked what they think. This is called a 'Retrospective' planning application.

If permission is unlikely to be granted, the Planning Compliance Team will ask for the unauthorised development to be removed, reduced in size to meet permitted development parameters or the use to cease. A suitable period of time will be allowed depending on what needs to be done. For example, a business operation may need to find a new site or premises.

In this way, the vast majority of breaches in planning control are resolved informally and by negotiation with the owners and occupiers of the land.


When planning enforcement action is not possible

We will not be able to take enforcement action in the following cases;

  • If the work does not need permission.
  • If the development already has the necessary permission.
  • If the work has become legal because of the passage of time, even if it did not have permission in the first place.
  • The breach is deemed minor with no significant effects. 
  • Where a non-planning issue is identified. In these instances we will pass the complaint to the relevant department of the Council or other body.


If you have received an enforcement notice which you disagree with, then you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate

The Planning Inspectorate must receive an appeal before the date the enforcement notice comes into force.

Once an appeal against an enforcement notice is lodged, the matter is on hold until the Inspector issues his decision. Prosecution is not possible at this time

Make an appeal

You can find guidance for making an appeal on Planning Portal or contact us for more details.