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Planning enforcement charter


Planning permission is needed for most types of development, including new buildings and extensions and the change of use of land or buildings. However, some minor work (known as permitted development) can be carried out without applying for permission.

Sometimes developers or householders undertake work without planning permission or fail to keep to the permission they have been given. When such works are undertaken, this is referred to as a breach of planning control. This is not itself a criminal offence. This only occurs when a notice served by the council has not been complied with, in the timescale required.

The purpose of planning enforcement is to resolve the problem rather than to punish the mistake. In addition, any action taken has to be proportionate to the scale of the breach.

The council has legal powers to investigate breaches of planning control. It can take formal action where a satisfactory outcome cannot be achieved by negotiation. However, enforcement is a discretionary power. That means that, even where there is a breach of planning control, the council has to consider the breach against the planning policies of the Local Development Plan and whether it is in the public interest to take enforcement action.

The council has statutory duty to prepare an Enforcement Charter and to review it at least every 2 years. It explains how the enforcement process works (including matters we cannot investigate); what happens at each stage of what can be a lengthy process; and the service standards we have set. It aims to make sure that our procedures are fair and reasonable and that we keep everyone involved informed when enforcement issues arise. The Charter also explains the current powers available to the council.

The Planning enforcement pages include useful information on planning enforcement to complement the Planning Enforcement Charter. The pages explain how to report a breach of planning control to the council, how we process complaints relating to breaches of planning control, and information on enforcement powers. The Enforcement Register can also be found there.  We also have a downloadable version of our Planning enforcement charter.

Service standard

We will carry out our investigations in accordance with the following key values

Independence: We will make our decisions based on a fair, impartial and objective assessment of what is in the public interest and the level of harm caused by the breach

Integrity: We will be open in our contact with the customers while preserving their confidentiality

Sensitivity: We recognise the needs of the customers involved in the enforcement process

Professionalism: We will investigate and record cases thoroughly and accurately