Planning enforcement and compliance

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

We are responsible for dealing with breaches of planning control. We respond to reports about possible breaches of planning law.

The planning system is designed to manage the development and use of land and buildings in the public interest. The rules are not meant to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another.

Wherever possible, we will try to resolve breaches of planning rules through negotiation rather than confrontation and prosecution.

Our commitment

We will:

  • aim to meet the timescales set down in our enforcement plan
  • be fair, independent and objective
  • make sure all parties are kept informed
  • use wording that is easily understood by all
  • be consistent
  • be helpful to all parties

Time limits for taking enforcement action

Development becomes immune from enforcement action:

  • within four years of substantial completion for a breach of planning control consisting of operational development (physical alteration to land or buildings)
  • within four years for an unauthorised change of use to a single dwelling-house
  • within 10 years for any other breach of planning control
  • no time restrictions for enforcement action regarding untidy sites
  • no time restrictions for enforcement action regarding unauthorised work to a listed building

Planning controls

We will investigate the following:

  • carrying out development that requires planning permission, either without planning permission or in a way that is significantly different from what has been granted
  • failing to comply with planning conditions or limitations attached to a planning permission
  • changes of use of land or buildings either without planning permission or in a way that is significantly different from what has been granted
  • works to a listed building without consent
  • works to a protected tree without consent
  • display of unauthorised advertisement
  • demolition of certain buildings in a conservation area
  • untidy sites

We will not investigate:

  • neighbour disputes
  • private property boundaries and/or covenants
  • property devaluation
  • disturbance due building operations
  • loss of private views
  • business competition

These are likely to be private civil matters and we will not intervene.

Most breaches of planning control are not criminal offences. It is for us to decide what (if any) action we take in response to a breach.  Each case is unique and will be considered on its own facts and merits.

In arriving at a decision whether to take formal enforcement action, the council will be fair, independent and objective.