Planning enforcement

Our responsibility

The Council is responsible for investigating alleged breaches of planning control.  A breach of planning control is development carried out without the necessary consent from the Council as Local Planning Authority (LPA).  (An initial investigation would be undertaken in order to establish whether planning permission is required in the first instance.)

Investigations also include unauthorised works to listed buildings, demolition in a conservation area, the unauthorised display of advertisements, and unauthorised works to protected trees and tree within a conservation area.  All of which constitute a criminal offence.

How we can help

We investigate:

  • operational development such as residential extensions and alterations, new buildings, engineering operations etc
  • material changes of use such as a shop to a cafe, industrial unit to retail, businesses from residential homes that alter the overall character
  • development that may not be in accordance with a planning approval, such as development not built in accordance with approved plans
  • breaches of conditions linked to a planning approval, such as operations or deliveries outside of approved hours or exceeding manner of operations or use controlled via conditions
  • works or alterations that affect the character of a listed building
  • demolition of structures within a conservation area
  • displaying of advertisements, such as trailers, fascia signage, hoarding, etc
  • works to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order of within a conservation area
  • poor condition of private buildings and land that adversely affect the amenity of the neighbourhood

If you think that one of these points have been breached, tell us using the report form below.

We need your contact name and address but your complaint will be dealt with in strictest confidence.

What we cannot investigate:

  • internal refurbishment of buildings which are not listed
  • party wall or land ownership disputes
  • minor works that do not amount to development
  • health and safety matters
  • overgrown gardens that do not seriously affect residential amenity

Related documents

What happens next

When we log your complaint it will be given a case reference number and you will be sent an acknowledgement letter or email.  We aim to do this within 3 working days.  The letter will tell you who is dealing with your case including their contact details.

The priority of a case will be assigned on a case by case basis, the following is a guide to the priority structure;

  • Priority 1 – works that cause a potential threat to public safety (for these cases we will endeavour to visit the site within 1 working day from receipt of the complaint).
  • Priority 2 – development or activity that causes clear and immediate harm to the locality (for these cases we will endeavour to visit the site within 5 working days).
  • Priority 3 – enquiries for which there is less impact in terms of harm being caused (we will endeavour to visit the site within 10 working days).

The case officer will visit the site to establish more details about the alleged breach and an assessment will be made as to whether planning permission is required.

When no breach has been identified the case will be closed and the complainant will be advised of the outcome.

When a breach has been identified the Council may invite an application in an attempt to regularise the situation.

If a breach has been identified and it is expedient to take action an offender is still entitled to provide an application for consideration.  If no application if submitted the Council will consider whether to take further action.  This could ultimately result in formal enforcement action being taken.  In the case of serious breaches, the Council may take action immediately.

Enforcement Notices can be appealed against and if an appeal is lodged, the notice will be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the appeal.

Where there is a breach of the requirements of an Enforcement Notice, Breach of Condition Notice, or a Stop Notice, the party concerned is guilty of an offence and the Council can initiate prosecution proceedings.

Report a planning breach

Your details
Details of the potential breach


Legislation requires that the name and address of the person making the complaint, or any other contact details, will not be disclosed. However, if you have supplied evidence which is vital to the investigation, you may be asked to give that evidence at a hearing. Such evidence carries more weight if presented by the person who collected it and you may be asked to contribute to an appeal.  However, you are not obliged to do so.

If the activity you have complained about becomes the subject of a planning application, you amongst others will be invited to make your views on the application in writing. At this stage, written comments we receive on a valid planning application cannot be treated in confidence, but the initial complaint to the enforcement team will remain private.

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Council has to make available to the public information about where there has been a complaint and what that complaint is about. Formal notices that are served on those in breach of planning regulations, along with a list of those people served with that notice are also public documents.

Search for planning breaches

Search the PublicAccess enforcement register to view notices, including Breach of Condition notices.

The search facility includes alleged breaches of planning control which are currently being investigated and those where formal enforcement action is being, or has been progressed.

High hedges

High hedges are covered under the 'Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003'. Under the legislation, when neighbours have tried all avenues to resolve a hedge dispute, they can take their complaint to the Local Planning Authority (LPA).

The Act states that our role is not to mediate or negotiate but to adjudicate on whether 'the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property'.

Find out more with the simple guide to The Law and High Hedges.

Further information regarding High Hedges can also be found by visiting the Planning Portal.

We can reject a complaint if we think you have not done everything you reasonably can to settle the dispute between you and your neighbour.  If an amicable resolution cannot be reached or meaningful negotiations and mediation fail, we may accept a formal application.

An application costs £380 (payable by the applicant).  Your application will not be accepted without this fee.

If your complaint is upheld and we determine that the high hedge is having an adverse affect upon the reasonable enjoyment of your property, we will refund 50% of the application fee.

If an amicable solution cannot be found and you wish to submit an application the application form can be found below.

Related documents

Contact planning