Planning Enforcement

Planning Enforcement investigates possible breaches of planning control and aims to resolve these using the most appropriate means (from negotiation to formal enforcement action). When development takes place without permission, the Council has a full range of enforcement powers available to establish whether a breach of planning control has taken place, what harm is caused as a result of the breach and how to remedy the situation.

What is a breach of planning control?

A breach of planning control is defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as:-

  1. The carrying out of a development without the required planning permission; and
  2. Failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.

Examples of breaches of planning control:

  • Building work, engineering operations and material changes of use, which are carried out without planning permission, where planning permission is required
  • Development which has planning permission but is not carried out in accordance with the approved plans
  • Failure to comply with conditions or the terms of a legal agreement attached to a permission or consent
  • Advertisements that require express consent under the Advertisement Regulations, but are displayed without consent being granted*
  • Demolition within a conservation area, without conservation area consent, when it is required*
  • Works carried out to a "listed" building, which affect it's historic character or setting, without listed building consent being granted*
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of a planning legal notice (e.g.) enforcement, discontinuance, stop notice, etc*

*These items constitute an offence.

The Council will not become involved in matters that are purely neighbourly disputes and, in particular, cannot become involved in boundary disputes or enforcing covenants on deeds.

How to make a complaint

If you suspect there is a breach of planning control please let us know by completing our Planning Enforcement - Complaint Form or alternatively contact us as shown below:

If you write to us we will need to know:

  • The precise location of the site or property to which the complaint relates.
  • The exact nature of concern i.e. a description of the suspected breach of planning control.
  • If possible, the identity of the person/organisation responsible and the date and/or time the breach began.
  • Your contact details (name, address and telephone number etc.) are also required as anonymous complaints are not accepted.

What happens to your complaint?

  • Your complaint will be registered, prioritise, allocated and investigated accordingly.
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days if a postal address or e-mail address is provided.
  • We will advise you of the outcome of the investigation.

Please note that due to the nature and complexity of some breaches of planning control, and workloads, we cannot always provide regular updates throughout the investigation. Therefore, if you require an update you should contact the case officer using the reference quoted on the acknowledgement letter.

What happens is a complaint has been made about me?

If you have breached planning control you may be given the opportunity to apply for retrospective planning permission and we will guide you as to whether we feel you might get it. It is in your interest to apply as any unauthorised extensions, for example, could cause problems if you sell your home in the future.

If you have breached planning control and we don't feel you would get permission you will be asked to put the situation right, e.g. by stopping the use or pulling down or reducing the size of an unauthorised building.

If you do nothing to put the situation right, then we may consider taking formal action.


Every effort will be made to keep the identity of the complainant confidential. In many cases the original source of the complaint is an officer of the Council.  However, those who are close to the site of the alleged breach of planning control often provide the best evidence. Therefore the reluctance of a complainant to be identified and provide evidence may seriously affect the outcome of the investigation.

Live Complaint Search

You can search for live cases via the below search button using the reference number, location, parish etc.

Planning Enforcement - Live Complaint Search

More information about the Enforcement Process is available via The Planning Portal - Enforcement Section Opens new window