All complaints and allegations of breaches of planning control will be investigated. They will be responded to according to the seriousness of any harm they may cause to areas or matters subject to planning control. They will be prioritised according to their urgency and degree of harm to amenity and where special protection may apply. 

It is not always a legal offence to carry out development without planning permission, the Council will decide the what action to take. 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 therefore are investigated as 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.