Report a breach of planning rules

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

How to report an alleged breach of planning control. The process we follow once a report is received, including timescales and how we prioritise our planning enforcement cases.

How to report

Report a breach of planning control

You will need to include:

  • details of the alleged breach or unauthorised activity
  • address or location of the alleged breach
  • date when the works or activity first started
  • the harm you feel it causes you and the neighbourhood. Include photos if this helps
  • name and contact details of the person(s) carrying out the alleged breach (if known)
  • your name, postal address and other contact details (this is essential)

Your complaint will be treated as confidential. We will not reveal any information likely to identify the complainant unless required to for court proceedings.

We do not accept anonymous complaints.

The process when an alleged breach is reported

We receive many reports of alleged breaches of planning controls. Some are very serious and can take a long time to investigate. We prioritise cases in accordance with the scale of the breach and the seriousness of the harm caused.


We will consider negotiation before taking formal action, where a successful outcome seems possible within a reasonable timescale.

Negotiation is not appropriate where significant and sustained harm is experienced in the surrounding area. In these circumstances, we will take formal enforcement action. 


Within five working days we will acknowledge your request in writing (or by email if provided). We will provide the case reference number and the name and contact details of the case officer. We will also provide the alleged contravener with these details.

Top priority

When irreversible and serious damage to the environment or public amenity would result. We will visit the site within 24 hours for alleged breaches like: 

  • demolition or works to a listed building
  • unauthorised works to a protected tree(s)
  • removal of a protected non-domestic hedgerow
  • demolition of certain buildings in a conservation area
  • works where there appears to be a serious threat to health or safety
  • works where there is already an on-going court case or appeal 

High priority

When less immediate, but still serious and harmful to the environment or public amenity. We will visit the site within seven working days for alleged breaches like: 

  • significant unauthorised alterations or extensions to a dwelling or domestic building
  • where building works have started without planning permission, or in a way that is significantly different from what has been granted 

Medium priority

When less likely to cause serious or lasting harm to the environment or public amenity. We will visit the site within 15 working days for alleged breaches like: 

  • changes of use of land or buildings contrary to council policy or where there is a harmful effect on public amenity or highway safety
  • non-compliance with planning conditions
  • all types of unauthorised advertisements
  • unauthorised domestic structures, such as, sheds, greenhouses, carports, walls, fences or satellite dishes (except on listed buildings)
  • formation of vehicular access onto a classified road
  • formation of house of multiple-occupation
  • installation of unauthorised windows/doors etc. in the Kendal Conservation Area

Low priority

When likely to remain stable and unlikely to cause significant harm to the environment or public amenity. We will visit the site within 20 working days for alleged breaches like:

  • untidy sites considered detrimental to public amenity
  • field shelters
  • siting of a caravan used for living accommodation