Breaches of planning control
What is a breach of planning control?
A development carried out without the relevant planning permission is a breach of planning control.
The execution of unauthorised works is not defined in law as a criminal offence unless the works are being made to a listed building; constitute 'total or substantial demolition' of a structure in a Conservation Area; involve the felling of protected trees in a conservation area; or involve the erection of unauthorised advertisements.
A breach may involve:
- Building works affecting the external appearance of the building.
- Internal and external works to a listed building.
- Material changes of use.
- Non-compliance with conditions attached to planning consents.
- The erection of advertisements.
- Substantial demolition in a Conservation Area.
- The felling of protected trees.
Our Planning Enforcement team investigates these breaches.
What isn't a breach of planning control?
It is important to be aware that certain works or changes of use may not require consent. Where permission is not required from the local planning authority, or where planning legislation permits the development, the council will not be able to take enforcement action. Please see our frequently asked questions for further information.
The Planning Enforcement team does not investigate:
- Neighbour disputes.
- Land boundaries or ownership disputes
- Works to party walls.
- Smells, noise and pollution.
- Use of development on highways or pavements.
- Dangerous structures.
Information about who to contact regarding these issues can also be found in the planning enforcement frequently asked questions.
Reporting an alleged breach of planning control
If you believe that a breach of planning control has occurred, you can make an enquiry to our Planning Enforcement team. Our FAQs further explain what can be done without permission and may help to give you a clearer idea as to what information will be useful to us.
Please include as much detail as possible: the majority of successful investigations are aided by information supplied by the complainant, and you can help the council by being prepared to collect information and give evidence for appeals or prosecutions. It is for this reason that the council cannot accept anonymous enquiries.
What happens next?
If it is established that a breach of planning control has occurred, our Planning Enforcement team will attempt to negotiate an informal resolution by inviting a retrospective planning application or requesting that remedial works be carried out. If informal negotiations fail to reach a positive conclusion, the council may decide to take formal action.
Although many cases can be resolved informally, the council often has to take action, serving many notices every year, as well as instigating a variety of legal proceedings including prosecutions and injunctive relief.