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Planning enforcement

Common breaches of planning control

  • A building is erected, extended or altered without planning permission.
  • Work is carried out which does not comply with approved plans.
  • A condition imposed on a planning permission is not complied with.
  • An unauthorised change of use of a building or land, such as the use of a residential property for business use.

Alterations to historic buildings, display of signs, works to protected trees and untidy land may also result in breaches of planning-related legislation.

If individuals carry out unauthorised works, for example where there has been an irretrievable loss of historic buildings, valuable protected trees, or there is continued non-compliance after formal action, the person responsible may be prosecuted.

Who deals with enforcement?

The local authority have a dedicated enforcement team whose job it is to deal with enquiries about breaches and resolve cases through formal and informal enforcement action as necessary. 

The enforcement team deals with around 2,400 enquiries countywide every year. For more information please read the 'Guide to planning enforcement' leaflet in the downloads sidebar. 

Making an enquiry

If you feel a breach has occurred and would like the enforcement team to investigate, please download and submit the 'Enforcement complaint form' in the sidebar. 

In your complaint please include as much of the following as possible: 

  • When activities started 
  • Site address
  • Approximate dimensions of any building works
  • Names, addresses and telephone numbers of any owners, occupiers or builders involved
  • Details of any amenity problems caused such as noise or traffic smells
  • In the case of possible unauthorised use, the frequency of the activity and the hours of operation
  • Your details are required so the team can inform you of the outcome of the enquiry, and in case they need to ask you for further information later. Enquiries about alleged breaches of planning control will be treated confidentially within the council so far as is practicable.
  • Your personal details are required so the team can inform you of the outcome and request any further information from you as necessary. You're submission about alleged breaches will be treated as confidential within the council as so far is possible. 

When an alleged breach is reported or suspected, the site will be inspected and relevant information will be sought to identify whether there is a breach. If a breach is identified, the person responsible will be informed of the issue and what action is required. Unless there is serious and immediate ongoing harm to the environment, highway safety or neighbours, the person responsible will be given an opportunity resolve the breach before commencement of formal action.

Formal enforcement action can be a lengthy process. In the event that we do issue a formal notice, the person responsible is given time to comply. They can also appeal to the Planning Inspectorate who can suspend the action. If the appeal is upheld, further time is allowed for compliance.

The team aims to keep you updated on the progress of your enquiry at key stages during the process.

For more information, please see our adopted 'Planning Enforcement Strategy' in the downloads sidebar. 

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Last updated: 30 May 2018 | Last reviewed: 30 May 2018