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Report a breach of planning control

The enforcement team’s role is to investigate, identify and resolve breaches of planning control. Where necessary, legal action will be taken to secure compliance with planning legislation.

What is a breach of planning control?

Breaches of control can take a number of forms including:

  • building works or alterations without planning permission
  • alterations without consent to listed buildings, or threats to alter listed buildings
  • unauthorised changes of use of land or buildings
  • breaches of conditions attached to planning permissions
  • unauthorised work to protect trees or trees in Conservation Areas
  • the display of unauthorised advertisements, hoardings, banners and signs on private land
  • unsightly or unkempt land or buildings
  • changes of use of land or buildings without planning permission (including business use of residential property)

What is not a breach of planning control?

Not all development requires planning permission. Often building works or changes of use will be ‘permitted development’, meaning that they do not need the formal approval of the Council. The enforcement team will be unable to take any action in these situations.

Other circumstances where the enforcement team will not be able to act include:

  • the parking of vehicles on the highway
  • dangerous structures and buildings
  • internal refurbishments of buildings which are not listed
  • the operation of a business from home where the main use is still residential and there is no impact on residential amenity
  • works to or the removal of trees which are not covered by a tree preservation order or located in a conservation area
  • disputes between neighbours relating to land ownership or the siting of boundaries
  • noise, smell or pollution

Report a breach

The quickest way to report a breach of planning control is by using our online form:

You can also report a breach:

You do not have to give your name or address, but failure to do so will result in your complaint receiving a low priority. Any details supplied will be confidential.

How we prioritise complaints

Due to the high level of investigation requests received, each reported breach is assigned a priority rating according to the following categories:

Category Type of complaint Priority
1 Work to listed buildings or protected trees Investigation commenced immediately or within two working days
2 Development conflicting with major policy and ongoing operational development/changes of use with a serious impact on amenity.

Operational development/changes of use with less serious impact on amenity.

Investigation commenced within five working days
3 Building works with little or no discernible impact, such as boundary fences and gates.
Anonymous complaints and minor household alterations.
Investigation commenced within fifteen working days

An investigation will assess what action, if any, is necessary. In cases where a breach is identified, the Council will try to resolve the breach by negotiation rather than by immediate legal action. This may involve a retrospective planning application, but where there is no adverse affect on the character of the area, the Council may not take action simply to regularise a development.

In cases where a breach has a significant detrimental impact on the character or amenity of an area, the Council can consider the serving of an Enforcement Notice. Planning enforcement is discretionary and the Council will only take action where necessary in the public interest.

What you can expect from us

Where a name and full address is provided, we will acknowledge your complaint by post or email within 10 working days, providing the name and contact number of the officer who will be dealing with it.

  • We will keep you updated with any significant developments in our investigation throughout the enforcement process.
  • We will ensure that you are informed of the outcome of our investigation and explain when we cannot take any action.
  • We will carry out our duties in accordance with central and local government guidance.
  • We will carry out our investigations in a helpful and courteous manner, applying the principles of proportionality, consistency and transparency and encouraging negotiation where appropriate.

Further information on enforcement of planning applications can be obtained from the Planning Portal.

The Planning Enforcement Team will follow the procedures set out in Appendix E of the Corporate Statement of Enforcement Policy (attached below) and advise you of the outcome of their investigations as soon as possible.

Appendix E sets out the priority that the Council will attach to enforcement matters and the associated timescales for the initial stages of investigation work.

Planning Compliance Policy