About planning enforcement

Planning laws are designed to control the development and use of land and buildings in the public interest. For example, carrying out work or changing the use of land and buildings without planning permission could adversely affect visual amenity, compromise highway safety or cause irreversible damage to the historic or natural environment.

Making a complaint about a potential planning breach

Contact us via the online form

The planning enforcement team is concerned with resolving serious breaches of planning control, not with neighbour disputes or minor residential developments that have little or no adverse impact on the public. There has to be significant harm to public amenity, safety or the environment generally.

We will take the following courses of action when a breach of planning control is highlighted:

  • visiting the site to establish if a breach of planning control has occurred
  • deciding whether the breach of control unacceptably affects the quality of life
  • in line with government and council policy, decide on what is the best course of action to remedy the breach
  • explain to both the developer and the complainant what action is required
  • monitor the site to ensure the breach is resolved within a reasonable time

We will need your details, the site address/location, what the development is and what times things are happening if applicable. We will also need a description of what actual harm the development is causing either to the environment, amenity or public safety.

Complaints are dealt with in confidence and details of the complainant will not be made known without their agreement. However, the substance of the complaints themselves is not confidential. In some cases, it may be necessary to rely on evidence from complaints in order to take action and you will need to consider whether you are willing to actively assist the council by collecting evidence and acting as a witness at an appeal or in court.


As the council's resources are limited and some breaches are more harmful than others, we will allocate a priority level to each case so that those with the greatest impact receive the most urgent attention.

Each complaint will be logged and acknowledged within five working days of receipt, and a case officer allocated to it. A site visit will be arranged according to the severity of the alleged breach of planning control. We have four levels of priority:

Priority 1 - Urgent - site visit within two working days
Examples include: development causing serious threat to health and safety and permanent, serious damage to the environment

Priority 2 - High priority - site visit within five working days
Less urgent but considered harmful with the potential to escalate

Priority 3 - Standard priority - site visit within 20 working days
This is the majority of cases - possible breach but likely to remain stable

Priority 4 - Low priority - site visit when workloads and resources allow
Minor cases, for example satellite dishes, adverts, sheds, walls, fences

Enforcement action

The nature of the action taken will reflect the severity of the situation.

We will try to resolve breaches of planning control through negotiation with the person concerned. We will explain what the breach is and what can be done to put it right. This may involve:

  • submitting a retrospective planning application (if we feel it is likely permission may be granted)
  • removing or modifying the unauthorised development
  • ceasing the unauthorised activity

We will only take formal enforcement action where the breach of planning control is causing sufficient harm to justify it or where we have been unable to achieve an acceptable informal solution.

If you would like to know more about planning enforcement please refer to our Enforcement Statement and leaflet below that may assist you with your complaint.

Planning enforcement register

The Enforcement Register provides information on what sites the council has served an enforcement, stop notice or breach of condition notice and for what purpose. The register is a public document.

All entries relating to an enforcement notice, stop notice or breach of condition notice will be removed from the register if:

  • in the case of an enforcement notice or stop notice, the relevant enforcement notice is quashed by the Secretary of State
  • in the case of a breach of condition notice, the notice is quashed by a court
  • in any case, the relevant notice is withdrawn

Copies of enforcement notices can be viewed on our public access system.

If you are unable to find a notice that you believe exists please contact us using the contact details above.

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