Reporting an alleged breach
If you think unauthorised development or works are taking place, you can report it to the planning enforcement team using our online breach of planning form below. Matters that you should tell us about include
- work being carried out without planning permission or other types of permission (such as listed building consent or advertisement consent)
- unauthorised change of use of land and buildings
- not keeping to conditions attached to any permission
- work that doesn't keep to the approved plans which have been given planning permission
- work on trees that are protected by a planning condition or tree preservation order
To help us with our investigations please submit supporting information along with the form, for example, photographs, a diary of events, and measurements.
Please note that complaints must be in writing, and we will not investigate anonymous complaints unless the breach would lead to serious harm to public amenities or public safety.
There are also a number of matters that we will not investigate because they are legal or civil matters or can be dealt with by other services within the Council (in which case we will forward the enquiry to the relevant service to investigate). These include:
- land ownership disputes
- enforcement of conditions on title deeds
- clearing land of trees and shrubs (unless protected or in a Conservation Area)
- untidy land/fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles
- health and safety matters/site working practices
- construction working hours
- parking on a public road/blocking driveways
- unsafe structure/buildings
- light/noise/odour complaints (unless covered by a planning condition)
- any development on council owned land including works to council houses
- a prediction that something might happen
The Planning Service has recently experienced a significant increase in the number of reports about suspected breaches of planning control. Given this current situation, we will only visit sites for urgent cases where they are having an impact on public safety or an immediate and significant impact on the amenity of an area. For all other cases, it is likely that there will be a delay in investigating your enquiry. In light of this, we ask you to provide as much information as possible when reporting breaches of planning control. This can include providing photographs of the matter you are reporting.
We will try to keep you informed about significant stages in the progress of a case.
Assessing if enforcement action is needed
We must make sure that any action is appropriate for the seriousness of the breach and whether such action is in the public interest. Any enforcement action must be reasonable, proportionate, necessary and the minimum required to resolve the breach.
In some cases, we can decide that no action is necessary if we consider that there is no serious harm to the environment, public safety, or neighbours' amenities.
Here is what we assess if enforcement action is appropriate:
- are there any steps that can be taken to resolve a breach
- would a retrospective planning application be supported
- can a satisfactory outcome be achieved by negotiation
- is any action proportionate to the breach
- is formal action the most appropriate way to achieve the best possible outcome
We won't take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach of planning control that has no material adverse planning implications. What matters is whether the breach unacceptably affects the wider public interest, amenity, or safety within the natural or built environment. We aim to achieve the most appropriate outcome for all parties concerned including the developers, neighbours, and the environment.
We will usually try negotiating with the person who is responsible, rather than immediately taking legal action. We will give them a specific amount of time to either stop what they are doing and put it right or encourage them to send us a planning application if one hasn't been submitted. This is known as a retrospective planning application.
We will serve a notice if a situation is causing unacceptable harm to an area and where negotiations have failed. We may also take action if a retrospective application is unacceptable and can't be made acceptable by placing conditions on it.
Officers are continuing agile working and processing all enquiries remotely. You should continue to contact the relevant case officer as normal. Please note our opening hours are Monday -Thursday 8.45am – 4.45pm and Friday 8.45am – 4.15pm.
For an ongoing case, please contact the relevant Enforcement Officer.
- Reporting an alleged breach
- Planning enforcement register