A guide to Planning Enforcement in Carmarthenshire

The Council's approach to Planning Enforcement

Determining whether action should be considered

Planning Policy Wales states that an effective Development Management process requires Local Planning Authorities to be prepared to take enforcement action in appropriate circumstances. The Council has a discretionary role for taking whatever enforcement action is necessary within its area as the Local Planning Authority. The decisive issue is to consider whether the breach of planning control would unacceptably affect public amenity or the existing use of land and buildings meriting protection in the public interest. Officers will have regards to the Council’s Enforcement Policy.
Welsh Government guidance emphasises that: -

  • Any enforcement action should be commensurate with the breach of planning control to which it relates;
  • The intention should be to remedy the effects of the breach of planning control, not to punish the person(s) responsible for the breach;
  • It is usually inappropriate to take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach of control which causes no harm to public amenity; and
    Enforcement action should not be taken simply to regularise development for which permission had not been sought but which is otherwise acceptable.

When investigating an alleged breach of planning control, therefore, the Authority always seeks to ensure that decisions are taken concerning the most appropriate way forward in an effective and timely manner. This does not, however, mean that formal action will be taken. Indeed such action is limited to the most serious cases where harm arises and action is warranted in the public interest.
In the majority of cases, even where breaches are identified, we will seek to resolve these informally, which may include: -

  • Informal negotiation with an owner / developer to remove a breach, or to make changes to a development such that it no longer constitutes a breach, or no longer causes material harm;
  • Seeking the submission of a planning application to regularise a breach, which may include the need to comply with conditions to mitigate any harm caused by the development;
  • Concluding that no harm arises from the breach, such that it is not expedient for the Council to take the matter further.


How Do We Determine when it is, or is not, ‘Expedient’ to Take Action?

When we investigate complaints, and these are found to require planning permission (‘a breach of planning’) or a breach of condition, we will undertake an initial assessment to determine whether the development would be acceptable judged against the Policies within the Council’s adopted Local Development Plan. Although the nature of such assessment will vary depending on the breach, this may involve consideration of matters including: - the principle of development; and the impact on visual amenity / local character, highway safety, and residential amenity.

Where we feel that such development is likely to be acceptable, or could be made acceptable by condition, we would usually seek submission of an application to regularise development.

There will often be cases, however, where the nature of the breach is considered to have no unacceptable impacts, and we will conclude that it would not be ‘expedient’ in the public interest to take any action (including requiring submission of an application). An example may be where a boundary enclosure technically exceeds the ‘permitted development’ limit but causes no demonstrably adverse impact on neighbouring amenity. In such cases, we will inform complainants of our conclusions and close the investigation.

In such ‘non expediency’ cases, we appreciate that complainants will not always agree with our decision. Officers will, however, always be happy to explain the reasoning behind such conclusions with a complainant. Should a complainant remain dissatisfied with such a response, Section 6 of this Statement explains how they may progress such complaint.