What is Enforcement?
Planning enforcement is a discretionary power and covers very complex issues.
The council has a duty to investigate complaints about development that may have been carried out without permission or consent. The discretion of the local authority is applied to enforcement cases to ensure that unauthorised development is dealt with in a way that balances the protection of buildings, the environment and the amenity of neighbours whilst at the same time ensuring that owners enjoy reasonable use of their property.
When is Planning Permission Required?
Planning permission is usually required for changes to the use of a building or land, altering or enlarging a building, Works to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or trees in a conservation area, Building work or alterations to listed buildings or works which will affect the setting of a Listed Building with listed building consent and displaying advertisements. However, some changes can be carried out without the need for a formal planning application under permitted development.
If a building operation is carried out under permitted development it cannot be subject to enforcement action even in instances where development is considered to cause harm. The government set out permitted development rights for a variety of developments which do not require planning permission and therefore can be carried out without the control of the local planning authority.
What if a Development Does Not Have Consent?
If a development is carried out without the benefit of planning permission it is deemed to be unlawful. It is not an offence (or illegal) to carry out buildings works without planning permission. If enforcement action is taken, it can become an offence if a failure to comply with the requirements of any enforcement action occurs.
No two cases are identical when it comes to enforcement. The process can therefore often be lengthy and involve complex legal and planning issues. Not all matters can be addressed immediately, so an instant response cannot be guaranteed.
What is a Breach?
The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 defines a breach of planning control as; “the carrying out of development without the required planning permission or failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.”
Breaches of Planning
The following are examples of matters that can be enforced by the council under planning legislation:
- Building work and/or a material change of use undertaken without planning permission being granted;
- Development not being carried out in accordance with the approved plans of a planning permission, and
- Non-compliance with conditions attached to a planning permission
- Works to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or trees in a conservation area.
- Land or buildings in a very poor condition which are seriously affecting the amenity of the surrounding area
- Building work or alterations to listed buildings or works which will affect the setting of a Listed Building with listed building consent
- Unauthorised advertisements or signs
- High hedges as defined under the Anti-social Behaviour Act
Development carried out under and in accordance with ‘permitted development rights’ is not a breach of planning control. This may mean that works to land or property can occur without any notification being received by local residents or the council.
Permitted development does not require planning permission, so in some cases undesirable development may be able to be carried out without the council having any control over it. In these cases, the local planning authority are unable to take any enforcement action but can undertake checks to ensure compliance with national legislation which sets out permitted development rights.
What Is Not A Breach of Planning Control
The following are examples of matters which we cannot take enforcement action on:
- land ownership disputes
- neighbour disputes which are civil in nature, such as boundary disputes
- breaches of a covenant attached to deeds and land titles
- noise/odour issues (these are dealt with by the public protection team)
- obstruction of the highway
- parking vehicles on the highway
What Action Does The Council Take?
When we receive a complaint, it is prioritised dependent upon the severity of the breach and the likely harm it is causing. It is acknowledged that some alleged breaches need be given a higher priority than others. Priority will be given to cases where there is the possibility of the greatest harm being caused. The Council regards taking enforcement action as a last resort when all the avenues have been exhausted.
The following priority system will apply to each case received according to the following categories:
Cases where there is serious and immediate danger to the public, and where unauthorised work is being undertaken which is non-reversible such as works to listed buildings or works to protected trees. For these cases, an initial site visit will be carried out within 1 working day from the receipt of the complaint.
Cases where there is immediate harm to the amenity of the area through such things as noise, traffic, pollution, loss of light, increase in activity or physical impact or where works or operations are in progress. For these cases, an initial site visit will be carried out within 10 working days.
Cases where there is no specific impact on amenity or where the breach is of a technical nature only. This could include change of use, breach of condition, untidy land, unauthorised advertisements and minor developments.
The council is required to have a register available for public inspection that contains copies of all of the following type of notices served:
- Enforcement Notices
- Listed Building Enforcement Notices
- Breach of Condition Notices
- Temporary Stop Notices
- Stop Notices
At present we are in the process of transferring the register into an electronic format so they will be available to view on the council’s website.
To view the register at the Council Offices please contact the enforcement team directly on 01623 457397 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting a Breach of Planning Control
When reporting a breach of planning control, please rest assured that your contact details are held in confidence and used only to contact you directly to provide an update on the enforcement case.
Use of personal Data - All details will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Please use the following electronic form to report an alleged breach of planning control: