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Planning enforcement

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

3. What happens next?

Complaints will be assessed against our Enforcement Priorities. Site inspections will take place based on the priority of the breach, and will be unannounced in order that any potential breach is not concealed. Complaints will be investigated within 10 working days of receipt.

Enforcement Priorities

All complaints and allegations of breaches of planning control will be investigated according to the seriousness of any harm they may cause to areas or matters subject to planning control. The prioritisation will reflect the perceived urgency and degree of harm to amenity and to those features that are afforded special protection.

It is important to note that it is not a legal offence to carry out development without the requisite planning permission and it is for the Council to decide the necessity or expediency of what action to take. However unauthorised works to Listed Buildings or protected trees and the unauthorised displays of advertisements are all criminal offences and could result in prosecution in the courts and are afforded high priority.

Priority 1: Immediate Investigation

  • Unauthorised development that threatens immediate and irreparable harm, including:
    • Unauthorised works resulting in damage to a listed building or harm to a conservation area;
    • Unauthorised works to trees subject of Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or to trees within a conservation area;
    • Development that adversely and materially affects the amenity of a significant number of persons, their quality of life, health or safety;
    • Development potentially causing significant harm to protected landscapes, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Priority 2: Investigation in 5 working days

  • Unauthorised development which threatens limited harm, including:
    • Unauthorised changes of use of land and buildings;
    • Unauthorised residential and commercial extensions;
    • Breaches of planning conditions resulting in a loss of amenity;
    • Unauthorised development within the Green Belt.
  • Breaches of planning control that threaten less or no harm, including:
    • Most advertisements;
    • Minor breaches of planning conditions;
    • Development not in accordance with the approved drawings;
    • Erection of fences and residential outbuildings;
    • Monitoring Conditions.

Note: During investigation of a complaint the priority may change or additional breaches may be uncovered. If a breach is more appropriately dealt with by another enforcement agency, the matter will be passed to that agency for action.

The investigation process

An enforcement officer will visit the site, the owner/occupier will be interviewed where possible, and relevant details of the alleged breach will be recorded.

Following the visit the complainant will be advised if a breach of planning control has been established and if so what action we will take. The identity of the complainant will not be disclosed at any stage.

Formal action of an Enforcement Notice is only taken as a last resort and we will do our best to resolve any breaches by way of negotiation, and by encouraging submission of a planning application where considered appropriate.

Will I be told of the outcome of my report?

If you have submitted a report online, you will be told of the outcome. Please make sure you leave us an email address when you submit your report.


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