FAQs - Planning

Page updated on: 25/03/2022

We have produced a list of frequently asked questions to help answer some of the common queries we receive.

With all building work, the owner of the property (or land) in question is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations (regardless of the need to apply for planning permission and/or building regulations approval or not).

Therefore, failure to comply with the relevant rules will result in the owner being liable for any remedial action (which could go as far as demolition and/or restoration). The general advice is to always discuss your proposals with us in Planning and Building Control before starting work.

You can explore our common projects  list for information on planning and building regulation guidance. This provides a quick guide on what requires planning permission, what buildings regulations apply and all related matters e.g. protected species.

Listed buildings are deemed to have special architectural or historic interest and buildings situated within Conservation Areas are also subject to special controls.

Planning permission is not needed for all building work to your home and by using the interactive tool above you will see you can carry out a number of projects under permitted development rules provided you meet certain limits and conditions.

As the rules governing permitted development rights are sometimes complex, you are encouraged to complete the relevant preliminary enquiry form. Please follow the below button and select the form relevant to the part of the property and submit to see if planning permission is required. This form, which includes the facility to add a sketch plan and brief detail of the development, will be assessed by a planning officer who will respond to your query.

do i need planning?

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. Permitted development rights do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. Examples of 'permitted development rights':

  • minor house extensions (if the house has not been extended before)
    porches
  • garages
  • outbuildings
  • gates, fences and walls
  • hardstanding for vehicles
  • oil storage tanks
  • certain forms of renewable technology
  • access to a minor road
  • external painting
  • some changes of use, for example, changing a general industrial building to business use
  • industrial developments, for example, an extension to an industrial building or the installation of machinery below 15 metres high
    some advertisements
  • certain categories of demolition – subject to prior notification
  • certain forms of agricultural & forestry development - subject to prior notification

You can explore our interactive house for advice on many common householder projects or explore our interactive terrace for guidance in relation to flats, shops & basements. This provides a quick guide on what requires planning permission, what buildings regulations apply and all related matters e.g. protected species.

DO i need planning?

LDO’s can help enable growth by positively and proactively shaping sustainable development in a specific area. They can play an important role in incentivising development by simplifying the planning process and making investment more attractive. We have two designated areas within Ammanford and Carmarthen Town Centres.

Proposals to construct agricultural buildings, forestry buildings, and other related proposals will often benefit from particular “Permitted Development” rights, subject have to be notified notification to the Council on the ‘prior determination’ application form.

The Authority can reserve the right to approve certain details of the siting and design of such developments where considered necessary.

In all other instances, planning permission would need to be applied for.

If you intend to demolish your house, part of your house or any outbuildings, you will need to apply for a formal decision on whether we need to approve these details before you start demolition.

The easiest way for you to submit your planning application is online using the Planning Applications Wales website.
Completing the application form online ensures you are prompted to answer only questions relevant to your application.
Your completed application form is sent directly to us for processing.

Planning Application Guidance 

Apply for Planning 

If you have any enquiries prior to making an application, we advise that you use the guidance on our webpages and planning portal in the first instance.

If you have submitted an application via a third party, please contact your agent or planning consultant.
If you have submitted an application independently and wish to discuss with your case officer, we ask that you request a response to your queries by submitting them by email to planning@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.
Please allow up to 3 weeks from receipt of your application before you contact your case officer, to enable the application to proceed.

You don't need to own land to apply for planning permission on it. This means you can apply for permission before deciding whether to buy a piece of land. If you don’t own the land then you must serve notice on any owner(s) or interested parties concerned. The relevant notice will be available for you to complete online, under ‘ownership certificates’.
By completing this action, this will aid your application as information on land ownership is required in your planning application.

You can appoint an agent to apply for planning permission on your behalf. For example, you may prefer your architect or planning consultant to take care of it.

If you employ the services of an agent or third party, all correspondence regarding your application shall be issued to them directly.

Planning Aid Wales offers a free Helpline service to assist eligible members of the public and community groups needing help with a planning matter. For more information about the criteria they use to determine eligibility.

Even if you are not eligible for our Helpline service, you can still find all sorts of information and advice on this website by clicking on planning advice.

There are principally three kinds of planning applications - full, outline and reserved matters.

If you think that you may want to erect buildings on a site at some point in the future, you can initially apply for an approval in principle some matters reserved or approval in principle all matters reserved, which is called outline planning permission. If you receive outline planning permission, you must then submit further details (called the ‘reserved matters’) in order for the development to be allowed to start. You must usually do this within three years, otherwise the available time period will expire.  

You cannot make an Outline application for a change of use.

The second type is called 'full planning permission’, where you provide all the necessary details. If granted, development must be commenced within five years (or any other time specified in the conditions) or it will lapse.

Householder planning applications, required for small developments taking place within the curtilage of a dwelling, are exclusively submitted as applications for full planning permission.

The easiest way for you to submit your planning application is online using the Planning Applications Wales website.
Completing the application form online ensures you are prompted to answer only questions relevant to your application.
Your completed application form is sent directly to us for processing.

Planning Application Guidance 

Apply for Planning 

The Welsh Government sets a sliding rate of fees which can be found on the application fees. 

Examples of fees include:

  • Erection of a dwelling £460
  • Extension / Alteration to an existing dwelling £230
  • Change of use £460
  • Advertisement on a business premises £120

No. You are entitled to a resubmission without any further fee within one year of the date of a refused application or within one year of the date of receipt of a withdrawn application. The ‘free go’ resubmission must be by the same applicant, be for the same description of development, and relate to the same site as that for the initial application.

We welcome and encourage discussions before you submit your planning application.
Through prior discussions, we will be able to identify issues which you may need to take into account prior to submission which may save you not only time but also money.

You are advised to use our web information and the planning portal to gather all information. You can submit a planning enquiry by emailing planning@carmarthenshire.gov.uk. For more detailed and complex applications, developers and agents would be advised to request a formal discussion with a Planning Officer by emailing planning@carmarthenshire.gov.uk, you will then receive a response to arrange a formal discussion with the relevant planning officer who is familiar with the area to which the application relates and who is likely to deal with any future application in order to ensure that such discussions are of maximum value.  

We also provide an opportunity to engage in our Pre-application Service. The advice is provided for a prescribed fee, by Planning Officers will always be objective, however the views expressed are the views of an Officer of the Council and are given without prejudice to the formal consideration of any subsequent application which may be submitted.
We will provide information relating to site history, planning policies, previous decisions and where appropriate development standards.

The application is checked to ensure that the forms are properly completed and that the relevant plans and any supporting information required are attached.

Once we have deemed the application is complete and fees have been received, a case office will be allocated and you (or your agent) will be sent an email of acknowledgement. This may take up to 10 working days from receipt of your application.

Once the acknowledgement has been sent, the case officer will carry out the necessary consultations which typically include the County Highway Authority and National Resources Wales.

We also notify the local County Councillor and relevant Town or Community Council of all planning applications in their area.

There is also a mandatory requirement to publicise all planning applications and the method will  depend on the scale of development.

  • If 9 dwellings or under: We will either write letters to neighbouring properties or display a site notice outside or near the site.
  • If 10 or more dwellings: We would display a site notice outside or near the site and in a newspaper of the local area.

The most common reasons for a  planning application to be found invalid are;

  • incomplete application forms
  • incorrectly completed ownership certificates (within the application form)
  • inadequate or a lack of the required supporting information such as; design and access statement, tree survey, protected species survey
  • incorrectly detailed location and/or site plans
  • absence of the correct planning application fee

We are experiencing a backlog of applications due to the pandemic which has had an impact on service delivery, and saw a number of staff re-deployed to essential frontline services. Therefore, it may take a period of up to three months, on top of the usual delivery timescales of 8 weeks, to determine applications. We apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Planning Committee is currently meeting remotely twice a month in order to reduce the backlog as much as possible; and priority will be given to regeneration and employment-related applications.

We consider that all applications are important and we work hard to complete them as quickly as possible. We are constantly striving to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible during these ever changing circumstances.

Applicants whose submissions have not been resolved within the 8-week timeframe, which does apply to the vast majority of applications, may have received a request for an extended timeframe to assess the application. However the applicant does have the right to appeal to the Welsh Government via the Planning Inspectorate (Wales) if they do not agree to the extension of time. 

The Welsh Government is anxious that applications are dealt with as quickly as possible and encourages us to delegate the more straightforward applications so that they are not unduly delayed.  The majority of applications are therefore determined under powers delegated to the Head of Planning.  All other applications are reported to the Planning Committee for decision.

There are essentially four instances when an application has to be reported to the Planning Committee;

  • A minor proposal that the Head of Planning is minded to approve that has attracted two or more letters of objection from separate households
  • A major proposal that the Head of Planning is minded to approve that has attracted five or more letters of objection from separate households
  • A written request from the local county councillor within 21 days of his notification of the application providing material planning reasons for doing so
  • At the discretion of the Head of Planning

The Planning Committee shall either;

  • grant permission unconditionally
  • grant permission subject to conditions
  • refuse permission
  • defer a decision pending the receipt of further information or to carry out their own site inspection

Once a decision has been issued to the applicant the decision notice will be posted online. A list of decisions made is published weekly.

Should you not be satisfied with the decision, you are able to appeal a planning decision.

We have the following payment methods available:

  • By Telephone - We accept credit/debit card payments. If you’d like to speak to a member of staff in the cashier's team - call 01267 228686 during office hours, 9am - 5pm.
  • BACS Payment - e-mail planningregistrations@carmarthenshire.gov.uk for further details and to set up a BACS payment.

To pay for a Planning application please quote either the Planning Portal reference number PP-*** or the planning application reference number PL/00*** when making your payment.

To pay a statutory pre application enquiry fee please quote you reference number PRE/****.

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business.

If the answer to any of the following questions is 'yes', then permission will probably be needed:

  • will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
  • will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Whatever business you carry out from your home, whether it involves, using a room as your personal office, providing a childminding service, for hairdressing, dressmaking or music teaching, or using buildings in the garden for storing goods connected with a business - the key test is: is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises?

If you are in doubt we ask you to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Use for the proposed activity, to confirm it is not a change of use and still the lawful use.

Apply for Certificate of Lawful Use

If you wish to build a garden room/summer house to use as a work space, you will need to consider the rules governing outbuildings and building regulations for outbuildings.

We recommend you submit a preliminary enquiry form to us by email as an informal check to see if planning permission is going to be required.

do i need planning?

If you wish to build any of the above, you will need to consider the rules governing outbuildings.

Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to limits and conditions.

You will also need to consider Building Regulations:Outbuildings.

We advise that you submit the enquiry form below by email as an informal check to see if planning permission is going to be required.

do i need planning?

If you wish to build any of the above, you will need to consider the rules governing outbuildings.

Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to limits and conditions.

You will also need to consider Building Regulations:Outbuildings.

We advise that you submit the enquiry form below by email as an informal check to see if planning permission is going to be required.

do i need planning?

If you wish to build any of the above, you will need to consider the rules governing outbuildings.

Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to limits and conditions.

You will also need to consider Building Regulations:Outbuildings.

We advise that you submit the enquiry form below by email as an informal check to see if planning permission is going to be required.

do i need planning?

A loft conversion for your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to limits and conditions. However, Planning permission is required where you extend or alter the roof space and it exceeds specified limits and conditions.

You will also need to Building Regulations approval.

Work on a loft may affect bats. You need to consider protected species when planning work on this type. A survey may be needed, and if bats are using the building, a licence may be needed.

We encourage you to submit a Preliminary Enquiry form by email as an informal check to see if planning permission is required.

do i need planning?

Planning permission is not normally required for repairing, fitting or replacing doors and windows (including double glazing).

If the building is listed consent will be required.

You will need to ensure you comply with building regulations for all property types.

do i need planning?

We have several methods online which allow you to search and view a planning applications and decisions.

You will be able to view covering letter, application forms, plans, supporting documentation, surveys etc.

The planning information is not a full history of any site and it should not be regarded as an alternative to the information provided through a formal local land charges search.

We want to hear your views so that we can take them into account when considering planning applications.

If you would like to comment on a proposed development, you must do so within the 21 day consultation period. Comments can be made by anyone, as long as they provide their personal details and can be objections, support, or observations about the application. We cannot accept comments from anyone who wishes to remain anonymous.

All comments, for and against, an application are considered if they raise material planning considerations, as these can be taken into account during the assessment process.

Due to the volume of correspondence that we receive, we will not acknowledge receipt of your comments or respond to the comments or questions submitted or inform you of the decision. You can track the progress of the planning application online including the decision notice.

All comments, for and against, an application are considered if they raise material planning considerations, as these can be taken into account during the assessment process.

Please view ‘comments’ category on our FAQ’s for further information.

When commenting on an application, please consider the following points.

  • Be Clear – It is important to state which planning application your comments relate to, therefore include the reference number, site address and description in your response
  • Be Factual - All comments should be based on fact, and therefore, it is important that you view the plans for the proposed development before submitting your comments
  • Relate to Planning – Only comments which relate to planning issues (known as “Material Considerations”) can be taken into account. If in doubt, it is better to put all your concerns down, and let the Case Officer work out which are material than to miss something out which could in fact be material.
  • Relate to the Proposal - Only comments which relate to the relevant planning application can be taken into account
  • Explain if and how it impacts on your property – Anyone can comment. However if you feel that a proposal will impact on your property, it is helpful to explain how (including the relationship between your property and the application site). This is particularly important if you wish to be considered for Interested Person Status. See Interested Person
  • Fully set out your concerns – Comments which simply indicate support or objection will normally carry little weight. It is therefore important that you clarify why you support or object to a proposal. Please note that for applications submitted on or after the 1 January 2020 third party appeals must include a reason which relates to issues which you have included in representations made prior to the application being determined
  • Your information - Please be aware that anonymous submissions will not be considered. It is important to include your name, postal address and contact details (please note that if an email address is provided, we will assume that you are happy to receive further correspondence in that format)

If you would like to comment on a proposed development, you must do so within the 21 day consultation period. 

Any comment submitted as part of a planning consideration is publicly available (normally we will redact your name, phone number and e-mail address).
Comments will not only remain available as part of the permanent record of the paper file but also in our public archive which is available online through our website.

Most planning applications are determined by senior officers with delegated powers. Around 20% of planning applications are determined by the Planning Committee.

If you have made a written comment on a planning application, and it is to be determined by the Planning Committee, you may be able to register to speak at the meeting. Up to two objectors are allowed to speak on any application for up to five minutes each. The applicant, or their representative, shall have a similar five-minute period to respond.

Read our protocol for public participation (.pdf)

There is no appeal process for third parties against a decision or the conditions which may have been imposed on a permission.

If you suspect that someone is building, making alterations, or using land or buildings without planning permission please email us  at planning.enforcement@carmarthenshire.gov.uk with all the details that you are aware of.

If planning permission is required and has not been sought, an enforcement investigation file will be opened to consider whether there is any expediency in the public interest for the Council to take formal enforcement action.

Yes.  Any complaints or compliments regarding the service received should be directed to the Complaints and Compliments Team at complaints@carmarthenshire.gov.uk 

Further information is available at the Complaints and Compliments page,

It should be noted that any concerns conveyed in respect of a current planning application will not normally be considered until the application has been finally determined.

You do not need planning permission to build a fence, wall or gate provided that it is no more than 1 metre high if it is next to a highway used by vehicles, or 2 metres high elsewhere. You do not also usually need planning permission to plant a hedge unless your property is affected by a specific planning condition imposed on a planning permission, in which case you can apply to have the condition removed.

If you live in a conservation area, or the property is listed or affected by any planning conditions you should email us at planning@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

do i need planning?

We can not recommend particular planning agents or architects.  Services provided and prices charged can vary, so it is advisable to seek quotes from a number of different suppliers.

 

 

An extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to limits and conditions. There are different limits and conditions for rear extensions and side extensions, and for single storey and extensions of more than one storey.

do i need planning?

You do not normally need to apply for planning permission to re-roof your house or to insert roof lights or skylights.

The permitted development rules allow for roof alterations without the need for planning permission, subject to limits and conditions.

do i need planning?

You do not normally need to apply for planning permission to re-roof your house or to insert roof lights or skylights.

The permitted development rules allow for roof alterations without the need for planning permission, subject to limits and conditions.

do i need planning?

If your property is on a classified road you will need to apply for planning permission to create a new access or alter an existing access and you will need to obtain planning permission prior to proceeding with your dropped kerb application.

You are advised to submit a preliminary enquiry form to us by email to planning@carmarthenshire.gov.uk to seek confirmation of whether your proposal will require planning permission. Please see below button.

Where planning permission is required, you will need to submit a planning application.

Once you have completed your enquiry or approval process with planning, you can submit a dropped kerb application. You will need to provide a copy of your approved planning decision notice with your application.

do i need planning?

If you live on an unclassified road (not an A, B or C road) you do not normally require planning permission to create a new access or alter an existing access unless the proposal will adversely affect highway safety or involve engineering works such as the excavation or raising of existing ground levels.

There are no restrictions on laying patios, paths and other areas of hardstanding on land to the rear or side of your house. But there are restrictions on the type of material you can use to cover the land in front of the principal elevation of your house, if it leads onto a highway. 

The restrictions are that:

  • either the surface must be porous or permeable or
  • designed to direct run-off water to a permeable or porous area within the boundary of your home.

These restrictions have been put in place due to concerns that certain types of hard surface can contribute towards surface water flooding. For example, surfaces such as concrete are impermeable – i.e. they do not allow water to soak through them and instead, water simply runs off onto roads and pavements.

If you wish to replace an existing, impermeable hard surface that is located in front of the principal elevation of your house and leads onto a highway, you have an allowance to replace a small area - up to 5sqm in any 6 month period - of existing hard surfacing without needing to comply with the restrictions outlined above.

Further technical guidance is available in, “Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens (.pdf)” (Page 15).

A High Hedge Notice will be issued. It will detail any immediate action and any future preventative measures required along with the relevant timescales involved.

If the hedge owner fails to comply with the terms of the Notice, we can arrange for the work to be carried out and has the power to recover costs from the hedge owner.

 

Yes. The Act enables us to vary or withdraw a notice if we deem it appropriate. A party can approach us at any time with details of a change in circumstances to request that the notice be varied. This may be because of a change in the effect of the hedge on either party, or because both parties have agreed a solution which renders the Notice unnecessary. We will notify all parties with reasons for the decision. Both main parties have a right of appeal against the variation or withdrawal.

We can issue a formal notice of remediation to the hedge owner, which would set out what they must do to remedy the prescribed problem. In most cases this would amount to a reduction in height.

The notice will set a time limit for the works to be carried out and will state the maximum height to be maintained afterwards.

Failure to carry out the works required by us is an offence, which on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 and a smaller fine per day onwards.

We will withdraw a notice where it is clear that a hedge has been removed or destroyed or is no longer a ‘high hedge’ as defined in the legislation i.e. trees/shrubs have been removed so that there are no longer two or more evergreen trees or shrubs in a line, over 2m high, which are a barrier to light or access.

All complaints made to us about planning enforcement matters are confidential and are not divulged to the subject of the complaint. In some circumstances your details may however be divulged to other Council departments (for example Environmental Protection, Building Control, Highways) if they have powers to assist in investigating your complaint. If a complaint is made about a case that proceeds as far as appeal or prosecution proceedings, evidence may be required from you to increase the chances of a positive result, but you would be contacted about this beforehand to enable you to consider your position.

Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated unless it is considered to give rise to a serious planning harm.

Please note that enforcement matters can take a substantial length of time to resolve due to the procedure that must be followed and the volume of cases the Council receives.

The complainant will be updated periodically by email or letter when a key decision is taken.

We prioritise each case based on the nature of the issue as detailed within our Enforcement statement, we aim to visit the site within the prescribed times scales.

It is necessary to prioritise complaints in terms of impact and harm. Therefore the most urgent cases will be visited first. Once it has been established that a breach of control has or has not taken place the enforcement officer dealing with the case will inform you by email. The enforcement team will inform you of the result of any action when the investigation is completed. You will only be updated periodically by email or letter when a key decision is taken.

It should be remembered that the carrying out of development without planning permission is not a criminal offence and it can take considerable time to remedy a breach of planning control. However the enforcement team will attempt to resolve breaches of planning control as expediently as possible within the constraints of the existing legislation.

 

The information submitted to us forming part of a complaint is considered to be personal data, which is therefore exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (As Amended) and does not have to be disclosed by the Council. The only details which are revealed are the nature of the complaint made, i.e. wall built without planning permission.

The Council's Building Control Section can grant Building Regulations Approval for a development if it complies with Building Regulations. This is NOT a grant of Planning Permission. Building regulations and planning permission are entirely separate matters and are governed by completely different legislation. In many cases planning permission will also be required and would need to be applied for separately.

There is a right of appeal against planning enforcement notices and this, in addition to the work that is required to properly investigate some cases, means that the process of resolving a breach in regulations can take a long time. We recognise how frustrating this delay can be and will try to keep complainants informed at the key stages but it is important to understand that it is necessary for us to go through the procedures and requirements of the planning legal system.

The alleged breach will be assessed to establish the following:

Is more information needed?

In some circumstances further information may be required in order to establish more details from the land owner. In these instances we may have to serve a Planning Contravention Notice. This information will then be used to determine whether or not a breach of planning control has occurred.

Has a breach of planning control taken place?

No - The case will be closed and both you and the land owner will receive written confirmation explaining the reasons for this. Enforcement action cannot be taken if the works or change of use do not require planning permission.

Yes - Depending on the seriousness of the breach and the individual circumstances, different courses of action may be taken.

In most cases we'll attempt to resolve the breach through negotiation as we must give land owners a reasonable opportunity to 'right' the situation.

Where negotiations have failed or negotiation is not an option, we then have to consider if formal action is required.

Planning Enforcement is a discretionary power which we'll only use if we can demonstrate that the breach causes serious harm to public facilities. What action is taken will be dependent on the seriousness of the harm.

It's important to note that not all breaches of planning control will result in enforcement action being taken, particularly if there's no firm evidence that the breach 'harms' public facilities.

Enforcement action must be taken within 4 years in relation to the erection of buildings, and within 10 years in relation to changes of use (unless it relates to the change of use to a dwelling), and breaches of conditions. There is no time limit for the enforcement of breaches of listed building legislation.

A formal enforcement notice will be served on the owner of the property along with any other party with a legal interest in the land or building in question. The enforcement notice will specify what action is  required to 'right' the problem and will give a period for compliance.

The recipient of the enforcement notice has a minimum of 28 days to appeal against the notice to the Planning Inspectorate. Where an appeal is lodged, we can take no further action until the appeal has been decided. It's not unusual for the appeal process to take several months.

We'll always vigorously defend any appeal but if it's allowed (i.e. if the appellant wins), we can take no further action. If it's dismissed however, the enforcement notice will take effect, although the planning inspector can amend its requirements, including the period for compliance.

It's a criminal offence not to comply with the notice and could lead to prosecution. However, such action does require evidence to prove the offence is being committed by a named individual or company ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Collecting this evidence can sometimes be a lengthy and time-consuming exercise and in some cases pre-trial delays may be unavoidable

This type of notice can be served where a condition imposed on a planning permission has not been complied with. The notice sets out which conditions have not been complied with, states what action is required and gives a period for compliance.

It takes effect immediately from when it is served and it is a criminal offence not to comply with any requirement. The only right of appeal is to the high court. In the event of non-compliance, the council can take legal proceedings in the magistrates' court who can impose a fine of up to £1,000 on summary conviction.

No. Although we do not condone building anything that is different to a proposal that has planning permission and it is extremely unwise and risky to do so, planning permissions do not represent the only form of proposal on that site that may be acceptable to the authority. Therefore, enforcement action would only be taken against a different and unauthorised building to that previously approved if it was considered to result in an unacceptable harm by us. (See below for what is regarded as an unacceptable harm.)

Not according to planning law. Other than in the case of unauthorised display of advertisements or works to listed buildings, carrying out building works or a change of use without the necessary planning permission is not a criminal act and, initially, not subject to penalties such as fines or imprisonment. Later in the process, if an enforcement notice has been served and not complied with, then court action and penalties such as fines can be imposed. However, planning enforcement is a discretionary power of a local authority that should only be used to put right any harm caused by a failure to comply with planning control. When there is no harm, or it is insignificant, enforcement action is generally not justified. A harm requiring enforcement action would normally occur when the breach in question results in an unacceptable departure from relevant planning policies that would have justified refusing planning permission if it had been the subject of a planning application.

In the first instance, the objective of planning enforcement is generally not to punish those who break the regulations but to remedy any harm caused by unlawful actions. However, people who do not get the necessary planning permission for something they are doing risk the possibility of serious consequences of enforcement action that can be extremely costly, and failure to comply with an enforcement notice can result in court action and legal penalties. It may also be difficult or impossible to sell a property if planning permissions have not been properly obtained or followed.

Planning regulations do allow someone to apply for planning permission retrospectively after they have carried out unauthorised works or a use and the law requires us to accept and consider them. Such retrospective applications are considered on their planning merits in the same way as other applications and are not more likely to be approved or refused because they are submitted after the event. Planning permission may be granted retrospectively if the application proposal is considered to be acceptable but if this is not the case and permission is refused then it is likely that enforcement action will follow.

No. Some minor alterations, such as the insertion of a window into the wall of an existing house, may not require planning permission at all. In such cases, no enforcement action can be taken.

No. Planning law allows some types and sizes of buildings, and some changes of use to take place without the need to get planning permission from us, and these are sometimes referred to as ‘permitted development’. For example, many domestic extensions and out-buildings to houses are permitted development, but those wishing to carry them out should have this confirmed prior to starting any building. If you complain to the planning enforcement team about a building or use being carried out, officers will initially assess whether it requires planning permission. If it is a type or size that does not, perhaps because it is permitted development, then it will not be possible for us to consider taking enforcement action, or to access its acceptability as is done with a planning application proposal.

We do not have the power under the planning legislation to stop building work in most cases, including for example unauthorised development at a residential property, such as the construction of a garage/conservatory/outbuilding. In exceptionally rare circumstances there is the power to serve a notice requiring that unauthorised development is stopped, where serious planning harm is being caused.

If you demolish anything such as an extension, garage, outbuilding, wall, or fence and replace it with something identical, you may still require planning permission. Whether you need planning permission will depend on a number of factors. The fact that something similar or identical existed before is not a relevant factor in determining whether or not planning permission is required.

No. If a building is listed however, it is a criminal offence to carry out works that extend, alter, demolish etc. any part of the building without first obtaining consent from us.

If an enforcement notice is served requiring for example, the removal of an unauthorised development, it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the requirements of the notice in the time given. It should be noted that the offender has the right of appeal against such a notice.

No. If an obstruction of the highway is being caused by the activity, the police should be contacted.

We cannot become involved in matters relating to boundary disputes or allegations of trespass onto your property. If an extension is constructed on a neighbour’s property that you believe part to have been built on your land, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter. Similarly, if a neighbour has erected scaffolding on your property to enable them to construct an extension, we do not have any power to take action.

Planning permission is not required for the parking of a caravan/motorhome within the curtilage of a domestic property. Restrictions on matters of this nature are often written into the deeds of a property but this is not something over which the Council has any powers of enforcement. A civil action would have to be taken in cases such as these.

Planning permission would not be required for the use by a family member or friend to use a caravan/motorhome as living accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling.

We cannot become involved in and has no power to take action regarding matters relating to access rights. If a neighbour has fenced off part of their garden or a shared private drive over which you believe you have a right of access, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.

Similarly, if your neighbour constructs a fence or wall over a public footpath or a public right of way, we do not have the power to take any action in respect of the encroachment. The Council’s Highways Department may be able to investigate development that appears to encroach onto a public footpath, and the Countryside and Rights of Way Department may be able to look into any alleged obstruction of a public right of way.

We can only investigate an alleged unauthorised boundary wall or fence if it exceeds Permitted Development height restrictions. Further information about Permitted Development Rights can be found on the Gov.uk website.

In many cases, with the exception of the installation of a new window opening at first floor level in a side elevation, planning permission is not required to replace the windows, or to add new windows or install roof lights in a residential property, even if the property falls within a Conservation Area. If a property is listed however, listed building consent would be required. Planning permission may well be required in some cases, Permitted Development Rights, which allow people to insert new windows/roof lights, may have been removed, in which case you would need to apply for planning permission. It is always advisable to check with us before you carry out such work.

A property owner can usually use a room in their property as a home office, without needing to apply for planning permission. We cannot become involved in and has no power to take action regarding matters relating to the content of your deeds. If a neighbour has done something which you think is prohibited or restricted by the deeds, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.

No, we don't investigate these disputes. We can't investigate party wall act issues and covenant issues either, for help on any of these matters then contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for help and advice.

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Planning