Enforcement action

Report a breach of planning control

Our planning enforcement team deals with the investigation and resolution of breaches of planning control. These breaches are either reported by members of the public or discovered by monitoring building works. Enforcement action will only be taken where the breach of planning control is serious and is causing harm to the local area.

The team aims to:

  • investigate every reported breach of planning control
  • acknowledge reports of breaches within five days
  • report the outcome of its investigations.

We consider unauthorised development in the same way as if a planning application had been received for its proposal. Therefore the development will be considered according to our planning policies and standards. You can find out more about these policies on the planning policy webpage.

We will consider if the unauthorised development is causing harm. ‘Harm’ normally means either harm to the appearance or disturbance or nuisance for neighbours (such as noise disturbance, vibration, overlooking, and loss of light).

If we find that there is a breach of planning control, we will write a report that will specify: the background of the case, the reason for taking action, the council policies being breached, and the harm caused.

We then decide whether or not to take enforcement action.

If enforcement action is authorised, we can serve an enforcement notice.

Find out more about enforcement notices.

We might not take enforcement action for the following reasons

  • The development or activity may not need planning permission (this is often the case).
  • Planning permission is likely to be given.
  • The development has been there or the activity has been going on for so long that it is immune from enforcement action (10 years for most uses, four years for building works).
  • Although in breach of planning control, the development or activity is not causing harm to the extent that it would justify taking action.
  • There is insufficient evidence of a breach of planning control.
  • The government says that councils must only use enforcement powers where the unauthorised development is causing significant harm. Therefore the council will not take action if it considers the breach to be insignificant or that the harm caused does not justify formal action.

Outcome of the investigation

We will tell you about the outcome of the investigation if you tell us your contact details (address, telephone number or email address).

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