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Planning enforcement charter

Planning enforcement FAQs

If I make a complaint against someone will they find out it was me?

All complaints made to the council about planning enforcement matters are confidential and are not divulged to the subject of the complaint. In some circumstances your details may, however, be given to other council services if they have powers to assist in investigating your complaint. If a complaint is made about a case that proceeds as far as prosecution proceedings, evidence may be required from you to increase the chances of a positive result, but you would be contacted about this beforehand to enable you to consider your position.

I don’t want to leave my name or details; will my complaint still be investigated?

If an anonymous complaint is received, we only investigate where they will give rise to a serious planning harm.

Somebody has made a complaint against me; can I find out who it was?

The information submitted to the council forming part of an enforcement complaint is considered to be personal data, which is, therefore, exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of information Act 200 (As Amended) and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and does not have to be disclosed by the council. The only details which may be revealed once a case has been closed are the nature of the complaint made, i.e. wall built without planning permission.

My neighbour does not have planning permission for building work they are carrying out; can you force them to stop building?

The council does have the power under the planning legislation to stop building work. However, in most cases, including for example unauthorised development at a residential property, it will not be expedient to exercise this power. In exceptionally rare circumstances there is the power the serve a Notice requiring that unauthorised development is immediately stopped, where serious planning ham is caused.

Is building an extension/garage/conservatory etc without planning permission a criminal offence?

No, when a breach of planning control is confirmed and an Enforcement Notice is served requiring the removal of an unauthorised development, it is is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the requirements of the Notice in the time given.

 My neighbour is repairing and/or selling cars on the road outside their house; can Planning Enforcement do anything about this?

No. If an obstruction of the public road is being caused by the activity, the police should be contacted. In some circumstances the Council’s Roads Service may be able to investigate and instigate action under Roads Legislation.

My neighbour is building an extension that encroaches slightly onto my property; can Planning Enforcement do anything about this?

Planning Enforcement cannot become involved in matters relating to boundary disputes or allegations of trespass onto your property. If an extension is constructed on what you believe is part of your land, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter. Similarly, if a neighbour has erected scaffolding on your property to enable them to construct an extension, the council does not have any power to take action.

Do my neighbours need planning permission to park a caravan/motorhome on their property/driveway?

Planning permission is not required for the parking of a caravan/motorhome within the curtilage of a domestic property. Restrictions on matters if this nature are often written into the deeds of a property but this is not something over which the Council has any powers of enforcement. A civil action would have to be taken in cases such as these.

Do my neighbours need planning permission to allow someone to sleep in a caravan/motorhome stationed on their property?

Planning permission would not be required for the use by a family member or friend to use a caravan/motorhome as living accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling.

My neighbour has constructed a fence that blocks off my right of access to the rear of my property; can Planning Enforcement do anything about this?

Planning Enforcement cannot become involved in and has no power to take action regarding matters relating to access rights. If a neighbour has fenced off part of their garden or a shared private drive over which you believe you have right of access, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter. Similarly, if your neighbour constructs a fence or wall over a public footpath or a public right of way, Planning Enforcement does not have the power to take any action in respects of the encroachment. The Council’s Road Service may be able to investigate development that appears to encroach onto a public footpath. Planning Enforcement can only investigate an alleged unauthorised boundary wall or fence if it exceeds Permitted Development height restrictions.

Does my neighbour need planning permission to change windows or add new windows or roof lights in their house?

In many cases, planning permission is not required to replace windows, or to add new windows or install roof lights in a dwellinghouse. If the property is a listed building or located within a Conservation Area, listed building consent and/or planning permission will be required.

Does my neighbour need planning permission to use a room in their house as an office? There is something in my deeds that says the properties in this area can only be used for residential purposes.

A property owner can usually use a room in their property as a home office, without needing to apply for planning permission. The Planning Service has no power to take action regarding matters relating to the content of your deeds. If a neighbour has done something which you think is prohibited or restricted by the deeds, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.

 I have received a letter from Planning Enforcement telling me that my extension is unauthorised. I have only demolished and replace my rear extension with an extension of an identical size, so I don’t need planning permission, do I?

If you demolish anything such as an extension, garage, outbuilding, wall, or fence and replace it with something identical, you may still require planning permission. Whether or not, you need planning permission will depend on a number of factors. The fact that something similar or identical existed before is not a relevant factor in determining whether or not planning permission is required.

If planning conditions have not been met before a development starts and the planning permission requires information to be agreed in advance, for example details of landscaping proposals, will Planning Enforcement stop the works on site?

Enforcement action must always be proportionate with the breach of planning control to which it relates. In such a case, we would assess the seriousness of the breach and its impact when deciding to take action. In many cases, the breach may not be causing serious harm to warrant the serving of a Stop Notice or Temporary Stop Notice. In some cases, it may be expedient to take enforcement action where the information or pre -works required by the condition is crucial to protect public amenity or public safety

What if a complaint is made about your property?

If a complaint is received alleging a breach of planning control at your property the council has a duty to investigate the complaint to establish if a breach of planning control has taken place. In many cases, it is often established that no breach has taken place, or that the breaches are not intentional and arise from a misunderstanding or no awareness of planning regulations. Very occasionally, breaches are investigated which are deliberate and a flagrant disregard for planning regulations.

When investigating a complaint, a Planning Enforcement Officer will visit your property. If you receive a letter, email or a visit from a Planning Enforcement Officer you are encouraged to respond promptly, positively and to provide any information that can help clarify the alleged breach and resolve it quickly. It is common practice for Planning Enforcement Officers to ask questions about your land or activities/works that you might be carrying out. Once the investigation is complete, the Planning Enforcement Officer will write to you to confirm if a breach has taken place or not. Where a breach has occurred, there will be a number of options outlined to address the breach, depending on the severity of the breach.

Property owners should be aware that development which does not have the necessary planning permission, or development that has not been carried out in accordance with a planning permission, is unauthorised. Any unauthorised development could delay or potentially prevent a future sale or property/land if the relevant permissions do not show up on land searches. Likewise, where enforcement action has been taken, Enforcement Notices and other Notices will also appear during legal searches on the property.