Planning enforcement

Page updated on: 24/01/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Planning applications can be submitted as usual and are being processed as soon as possible; however, we would advise you to make online applications if able to as our offices remain closed to staff, resulting in significant delays for paper applications.

We are experiencing a backlog of applications due to lockdown which 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, to determine applications.

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 employment-related applications.

Site visits will only be carried out, where they are deemed necessary; along with the posting of site notices where practicable. Neighbour notification letters are being used where appropriate.

Please note our internal software system is being updated during July and although it will have minimal impact, it is inevitable that there may be occasions where the service is temporarily disrupted.

Enforcement complaints are being progressed where they are considered by officers to be of high or medium impact (for example, where there are health and safety implications) or matters that are able to progress in the absence of a site visit.

We would like to thank you for your patience during this period.

Please continue to visit our Newsroom for the latest information. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Our planning enforcement team can investigate possible breaches of planning control such as:

  • Building work, engineering operations and changes of use of land or buildings that require planning permission, but for which planning permission has not been obtained.
  • Development that has planning permission but is not carried out as approved
  • Failure to comply with the conditions of a planning permission
  • Works carried out to a Listed building without consent
  • Removal or pruning of protected trees and hedgerows without consent
  • Advertisements which require express consent under the Advertisement Regulations, but which are displayed without consent
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of existing planning legal notices, such as enforcement notices and breach of condition notices
  • Untidy Land which is causing harm to the amenity of an area.

When we receive a request to investigate an alleged breach of planning control, we decide what priority should be given to the matter. Urgent matters would include:

  • Unauthorised work to a Listed Building or protected tree
  • Non compliance with existing enforcement notices
  • Time limited enforcement action.

Following an investigation, which will normally include research into the background of a case and a site visit, a decision will be made as to whether or not further action needs to be taken.

Enforcement action should only take place when it is absolutely necessary and all other means of resolving the issue have failed.

If the Planning Compliance Team are unsuccessful in their negotiations, the matter will be reviewed by a senior officer to decide whether more formal action should be considered.

If it is necessary to take enforcement action, then the following can be issued:

  • A planning contravention notice, which will require the owner or occupier of land to give us further information about activities and ownership of the land. This is the first step towards formal enforcement action.
  • An enforcement notice, saying how somebody may have breached planning control, what needs to be done to put things right, and when this needs to be done by.
  • A breach of condition notice if somebody fails to keep to a condition attached to a planning permission, for example, what time a takeaway must close.
  • An untidy land notice (Section 215 notice). These may be served where we have clear evidence untidy land or buildings are harming the amenity of an area.

If the requirements of an enforcement notice or breach of condition notice have not been complied with by the due date, the Planning Enforcement Team will go on to pursue prosecution in the Courts, including seeking an injunction in the most persistent and harmful cases.

If the work needs planning permission but appears to meet the objectives of our development plan policies, we will normally ask interested parties to make a planning application to retain the development so the matter can be considered formally, and neighbours can be asked what they think. This is called a 'Retrospective' planning application.

If permission is unlikely to be granted, the Planning Enforcement Team will ask for the unauthorised development to be removed, reduced in size to meet permitted development parameters or the use to cease. A suitable period of time will be allowed depending on what needs to be done. For example, a business operation may need to find a new site or premises.

In this way, the vast majority of breaches in planning control are resolved informally and by negotiation with the owners and occupiers of the land.

  • We will not be able to take enforcement action in the following cases:
  • If the work does not need permission.
  • If the development already has the necessary permission.
  • If the work has become legal because of the passage of time, even if it did not have permission in the first place.
  • The breach is deemed minor with no significant effects.
  • Where a non-planning issue is identified. In these instances we will pass the complaint to the relevant department of the Council or other body.

If you have received an enforcement notice which you disagree with, then you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Planning Inspectorate must receive an appeal before the date the enforcement notice comes into force.

Once an appeal against an enforcement notice is lodged, the matter is on hold until the Inspector issues his decision. Prosecution is not possible at this time.