Planning enforcement policy

Local Planning Enforcement Plan

National Government produced the National Planning Policy Framework, which recommends that all planning authorities produce a local enforcement plan to assist in managing enforcement proactively in a way that is appropriate for their area.

The Local Planning Enforcement Plan sets out:

  • How to report breaches of planning control;
  • How we will investigate reported breaches;
  • What advice we will provide and how;
  • When we will take action;
  • When we will not take action;
  • The legal powers we have and how we will use them.

Where you can see the Local Planning Enforcement Plan

Download the Local Planning Enforcement Plan (PDF: 309Kb / 25 pages).

The integrity of the development and building control process depends on our readiness to take enforcement action. This is when it is considered essential to do so. Rapid initiation of enforcement action is vital to prevent a breach of planning and building control from becoming well-established. This would then be more difficult to remedy.

We recognise the importance of establishing effective controls over unauthorised development. These are undertaken in accordance with the advice contained in the National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 207, the Department of the Environment Circular 10/97. Also, under Sections 35 and 36 of the Building Act 1984.

An Enforcement Policy is essential in order to promote and maintain effective and efficient working practices in the enforcement of planning and building control. We will not condone wilful breaches of planning law, or the Building Act. We will exercise our discretion to take enforcement action if we consider it expedient and in the public interest to do so.

Assessing a breach of planning control

As the local planning authority, we shall exercise all reasonable powers granted under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and the Building Act 1984 and Building Regulations 2000. This is including all other subordinate legislation, to effectively control unauthorised development. In considering whether it is expedient to initiate enforcement action, we shall pay due regard to the policies in force, and to all other material considerations. In considering enforcement action, we will assess whether the breach of control unacceptably affects public amenity or causes harm to land, people, or buildings.

Unauthorised development

We will attempt to persuade an owner or occupier of land to voluntarily remedy any harmful effects of unauthorised development. We will not allow negotiations to hamper or delay formal enforcement action that may be required to make the development more acceptable, or to compel it to stop.

Enforcement action shall always be commensurate with the breach of control to which it relates. Formal enforcement action against:

  • a trivial breach of control
  • breaches that cause no harm to amenity health, safety and welfare will not normally be taken.

Where development has been carried out without consent and the development could be made acceptable by imposing conditions to remedy any injury the development may have caused, an application for retrospective permission shall be requested to be submitted within a reasonable period of time as an attempt to regularise the situation.

Tell us about an unauthorised development

If you think a development has not been built in accordance with the planning permission that has been granted for the development, you can tell us about it online by completing the planning enforcement complaint form.

We will tell you of any significant case updates and will advise you of the final outcome in due course.

In the meantime, should you have any further information or updates you wish to provide on the alleged breach of planning control, please email; quoting case reference 20/51 in all future correspondence.

We will acknowledge all the correspondence we receive with a standard auto-acknowledgement. We will pass the correspondence we receive to the relevant case officer. At the current time we will not be able to respond to each email we receive, unless the case officer deems it necessary.

Compliance with planning conditions

Often, permission is granted with conditions which are designed to improve the development. When those conditions have not been complied with within a specified period, consideration will be given whether it is appropriate to issue a breach of condition notice or an enforcement notice for non-compliance.

Local employment

Where the development provides local employment, we will advise the owner or occupier how long the activity or operation shall be allowed to continue, or to be reduced to an acceptable level of intensity. If agreement cannot be reached, an Enforcement Notice shall be issued allowing a realistic compliance period for the unauthorised activity or operation to cease, or its scale to be reduced.

Unauthorised development to listed buildings

Where works to a listed building have been undertaken without obtaining consent, a criminal offence may have been committed. Subject to the gravity of the works undertaken, consideration will be given to the initiation of criminal proceedings and/or the serving of a Listed Building Enforcement Notice to ensure remedial works are undertaken.

Display of illegal advertisements

The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007 permits the display of certain classes of advertisements without the need to obtain specific express consent. The display of advertisements not requiring express consent may be displayed under the deemed consent provisions. Where an advertisement has been displayed which requires express consent but has not been obtained, the advertisement contravenes the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992.

Under the provisions of S244 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), an advertisement which is displayed in contravention of the Regulations constitutes an offence. Where the advertisement causes serious harm to the amenity, or in the interests of public safety, a request will be made to secure its removal within a specified period. If the advertisement continues to be displayed after this period, formal proceedings will be considered. In considering any action to secure the removal of any advertisement, due regard will be paid to the advice contained within the relevant planning policies and guidance applicable at the time, and with taking into account all other material planning considerations.

Derelict or unsightly land or buildings

The condition of certain buildings or land often causes serious harm to the visual amenity of an area. Consideration will be given to serving a notice under the provisions of S215 of the Town and Country Planning 1990, which will specify those steps required to remedy the appearance of the building or land. If those steps are not undertaken within a specified period, we may enter the land and carry out those works and then seek to recover all reasonable costs involved by placing a legal charge on the land.

Retrospective planning and building regulations applications

Nothing in the National Planning Policy Framework, or within the Building Act, condones a wilful breach of control. The submission of a retrospective application by an owner or occupier of land should not be encouraged where development is unacceptable and causes serious harm to an amenity and where we are likely to initiate enforcement action. The submission of a retrospective application shall not deter us from taking enforcement action. When a retrospective application has been refused and enforcement action has not already been taken in accordance with our enforcement policies, the applicant shall be advised that further enforcement considerations will be undertaken.

Monitoring development, conditions and S106 agreements

Effective controls are necessary to ensure development is carried out strictly in accordance with approved plans. The main problems that may be encountered are:

  • incorrect siting
  • inadequate protection to existing trees and hedgerows
  • inappropriate use of materials
  • inadequate hard and soft landscaping/boundary treatment

Certain areas of concern that need to be addressed during the development process may be subject to conditions imposed on the permission. However, there is no point imposing conditions on a permission where there are no effective monitoring procedures. Current legislation does not require a developer to notify the local planning authority of the commencement of development.

Effective monitoring shall require close liaison within the Partnership. It is a requirement under the Building Regulations to notify us at certain stages of the work. Information is exchanged on a weekly basis of building regulation applications, commencement dates and completion dates. Where an independent development inspector has been appointed, for example, NHBC, Building Control shall advise receipt of the Initial Notification of Development Notice.

Procedures shall be introduced to ensure effective control is maintained over development progress and the satisfactory implementation and discharge of conditions. An agreement under S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act may have been entered into for the development. This agreement may require certain works, conditions, or payment of monies before, during, or on completion of development.

If you have any further queries about planning there is a Planning Duty Officer available between 10am and 1pm.

Last updated: Tuesday, 11 April, 2023.