Make a planning enforcement complaint

If you need to make a complaint about an unauthorised change of use of a building or building works, write to us.

If a breach of planning control has occurred the council will first seek the co-operation of those responsible to try and put it right.

If the breach is serious and negotiation fails the council can take legal action to rectify the situation. This is usually done by service of an enforcement notice. Failing to comply with an enforcement notice is an offence and those responsible may be subject to prosecution.

An appeal can be made against an enforcement notice and this will be considered by an independent planning inspector. The notice will not take effect until a decision has been made on the appeal. In exceptional circumstances the Council can serve a stop notice which requires the building works or use to cease immediately.

Please note that complaints are dealt with in confidence but we cannot deal with anonymous complaints.

On receipt of a complaint we will carry out initial investigations of breaches of planning control which include:-

  • Buildings that do not have planning permission
  • Use of land and buildings without planning permission
  • Land that is kept in a poor condition and has a harmful effect on the character and appearance of an area
  • Works to protected trees without consent
  • Advertisements that do not have consent
  • Works to Listed Buildings
  • Development not built in accordance with approved plans
  • Non-compliance with planning conditions

High priority will be given to ensuring compliance with section 106 agreements, dealing with breaches that cause significant irreparable damage to Listed Buildings, harm to specially protected areas including conservation areas, and other visually prominent development and protected trees. Priority will also be given to breaches that cause significant and unacceptable harm to living conditions.

Low priority will be given to other cases, particularly where the development has relatively limited visual impact and/or effect on living conditions.

Enforcement complaints procedure

On receiving complaints we will follow the following procedure:

  1. Establish whether the works need planning permission (much development does not need Planning Permission, including internal works and domestic extensions). In some cases the Council will conclude that no action will be taken either because the alleged breach does not exist or that the breach is not significant so as to warrant further action.

  2. Seek to resolve the matter without formal action where possible (nationally this is the case in over 90% of instances). Our first aim is to work with the contravener to assist them in complying with planning law and policy. The council will aim to resolve breaches where possible by negotiation and agreement.

  3. Decide whether or not to take action at the earliest possible stage following the conclusion of our investigations. Decisions whether to take further action will be in accordance with this protocol (see below-Further Action) It will also be necessary for such decision to be prioritised taking account the staff and financial resources available at the time. A written record of the decision whether or not to take further action will be made.