We investigate all reports of potential breaches of planning. You can report a potential breach using our online reporting form.
Please check to see if planning permission has been granted for the development through our planning application website before sending us a report.
If you make a report, we’ll also need the following information:
- precise location of the site or property to which the breach relates (including an address)
- exact nature of the concern
- if possible the identity of the person/organisation responsible for the alleged breach
when the alleged breach began
You’ll also be asked for your name and address, which will be held in confidence and not disclosed. If you wish to remain anonymous you should submit your complaint through your local councillor or parish council.
In the event of the matter proceeding to an appeal or to court you may be asked to give evidence and we will not be able to withhold your details.
Once a breach of planning control has been identified it can be a lengthy process to resolve. We’ll always try to keep you informed of the outcome of any case you report and you can contact us at any time.
What is a breach of planning control?
A breach of planning control is defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as: “the carrying out of a development without the required planning permission, or failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.”
Not all development requires planning permission, it may fall within the limits of permitted development. You can find out more on our do I need planning permission page.
The planning enforcement team will investigate all suspected breaches and the following key questions will be answered:
- is there development?
- is there a breach?
- can the breach be resolved through negotiation?
- is the breach causing harm?
- is enforcement necessary?
What happens if a planning breach is identified?
If a breach is found to have occurred then the person(s) responsible have the right to apply for retrospective planning permission.
If a breach cannot be resolved then formal enforcement action may be taken. An enforcement notice may be issued, requiring the developer to put right what they have done wrong. If the notice is not complied with and/or appealed against then it becomes a criminal offence and the matter can be taken to court.
Whilst undertaking development without planning permission is a breach of planning control, the enforcement process exists to remedy the breach and not, in the first instance, to punish those involved. In many cases unauthorised developments are accidental or come about through an understandable lack of knowledge of the planning laws.
Minor breaches can often be resolved through negotiation without the need for formal enforcement action. This will usually be the initial course of action that we take.
A breach of planning control is not a criminal offence, unless it is an unauthorised advertisement, unauthorised works to a listed building or to protected trees.
Planning enforcement plan (PEP)
Following national guidance, we have produced a Planning Enforcement Plan (PDF File, 453kb) to give members and the general public clearer understanding of how we function. It details how we manage enforcement proactively and in a way that is appropriate to our area.
The plan sets out how we:
- monitor the implementation of planning permissions
- investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development
- prioritise alleged breaches of planning control
- take action where appropriate