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Planning enforcement

What we do when notified of a possible planning breach

All the notifications we receive are recorded, investigated and acknowledged. Investigations involve checking all background information and checking the site. Some cases are simple to resolve but others are more complicated and take longer. Where possible problems are solved by negotiating rather than prosecuting, which is lengthy and costly.

We prioritise the action taken to address the complaints causing the most nuisance. The complainant will be notified of the outcome.

Action the council can take

In some instances, no legal breach has taken place and we will explain the reason why. Where a breach has occurred, the council will:

  • ask for an explanation where the works are considered acceptable, or
  • aim to get the breach put right, where expedient

Where a problem cannot be resolved by negotiation, enforcement action may be taken. This can take several forms, including:

  • issuing an enforcement notice – failure to carry out the action necessary to remedy the breach in time is an offence
  • stop notice – this accompanies or follows an enforcement notice and prohibits any more work on an unauthorised development. Such notices are served in exceptional circumstances where serious and irrevocable environmental damage has or is occurring
  • breach of condition notice – where planning permission conditions have not been complied with
  • listed building enforcement notice – where alterations have taken place to a listed building
  • notice under Section 215 to require improvement to the appearance and/or condition of a particular piece of land

The enforcement notices we serve specifies:

  • details of the breach that has occurred
  • steps that must be taken to remedy the breach
  • the period within which works must be completed or the use stop
  • the time allowed before the enforcement notice takes effect

If the person who has committed a breach does not comply with these notices they can be prosecuted, fined or be subject to a custodial sentence.


In all the investigations, confidentiality will be maintained. Any action taken will only be based on:

  • the investigation
  • the facts we establish
  • the results of the site inspection
  • any interview with the person(s) who may have carried out the alleged breach.

To help us take enforcement action, we may request additional information or a witness at any prosecution.

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