Planning Enforcement Complaint

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Making an enforcement enquiry

Please read this guidance note carefully before submitting your enquiry. It will help you understand how we are able to action your enquiry.

Breaches of Planning Control 

A breach of planning control in most instances is not a criminal offence and occurs when development commence on a building or new use without obtaining the necessary planning permission. Planning law permits a person to make a retrospective planning application after work has been carried out in an attempt to regularise unauthorised works.

Not all development or new uses require express planning permission from the Council. The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 grants a range of ‘blanket’ permissions that allow householders and commercial operators to carry out certain developments and uses without the need for express planning permission from the Council, provided certain criteria are met. For example, many household extensions, boundary fences, garden buildings or new industrial buildings may be ‘permitted development’ and are therefore not within the Councils control. Please see the link to the Interactive House for details

Where a breach of planning control has been identified, the Council will work proactivity in order to resolve unauthorised development and in many cases, the most appropriate action taken is to invite a retrospective application.  This process will allow complainants to submit their concerns as part of the public consultation process attached to any planning application.  Where a breach planning is causing significant harm, the Local Planning Authority will consider the expediency of taking enforcement action.

The Enforcement Process 

Paragraph 59 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF February 2021) states that Enforcement action is discretionary, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control. It is therefore important to confirm that whilst the Council will investigate a complaint, it does not have to take formal action.

When taking enforcement action the Government requires us to show that the breach causes clear harm, specifically harm to the amenity of an area. Harm would not, normally for example include loss of value to a property, competition to another business or loss of an individual’s view. This is important as the legislation provides any person served with an Enforcement Notice the Right to Appeal. To successfully defend the Notice we must be able to provide evidence of harm. It is thus important for you to be as clear as possible in describing the harm caused by the breach.

Planning matters - what we can and cannot consider

In deciding whether to take enforcement action the Local Planning Authority can only take into account matters relevant to land use planning. It cannot be used to protect one person’s private or commercial interest against another.

The Local Planning Authority cannot investigate:

  • Civil and legal disputes between neighbours such as boundary/land ownership and private access and rights of way issues
  • Issues within the Highway such as mud on the road
  • Internal alterations to houses (unless a listed building)
  • Building control issues such as dangerous structures
  • Fly tipping

Similarly, it would not be appropriate for the Local Planning Authority to take into account matters that are covered by other legislation, for example, complaints of noise or the improper use of a public highway. Such complaints are best directed to the Police or the Environmental Health department.

Personal Information

Under the Data Protection Act we have a legal duty to protect any personal information that we collect from you. In these circumstances, any personal details you supply will only be used to provide the information or service you have requested. Personal information is not disclosed to third parties without your consent or unless required by law.

Please do be aware however, that due to the very nature of a complaint, it may well be obvious to a site owner who has complained and this is outside of the control of the Council. 

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