How long does enforcement action take?

Government advice is to use persuasion and negotiation in all but the most extreme cases. Often this proves to be the quickest and most effective method of resolving the problem. For this reason, the person(s) responsible for the breach is usually advised of the problem, what needs to be done to make matters acceptable and the powers of the Council if they fail to do so. In the majority of cases the contravener will take the necessary action of their own accord.

If persuasion and negotiation methods are not successful, the Council may then instigate formal action by serving an enforcement or other notice, taking out an injunction or prosecution. In these circumstances the matter will first be reported to the Development Control Committee in order to seek the necessary authorisation to pursue with more formal action. Immediate prosecution is only permissable in the case of unauthorised works to a listed building, the unauthorised display of certain advertisements and the wilful destruction of a preserved tree.

There is a right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against an enforcement notice and the submission of an appeal suspends the requirements of the notice. Appeals against enforcement notices may take up to a year to be heard.

Prosecution can only take place after the failure to comply with the requirements of an uncontested enforcement notice, a breach of condition notice or following the dismissal of an appeal.


What you can do to help

The assistance of the general public is often crucial to the success of pursuing enforcement action by the Council. Due to the amount of building activity across the district, both authorised and unauthorised, it would be impossible for us to identify all breaches of planning control.

At all stages in the enforcement process, the public's knowledge can supplement that held on official records. When alerting the enforcement team to a possible breach, it is useful to have as much information as possible (preferably in writing) and where appropriate, any additional information such as photographs. The information should include the date of when the activity started, the exact location of the site, the names / addresses / telephone numbers of the owners / occupiers / builders / agents etc and details of the effect that the activity is having on the local amenity.

If you wish to make an anonymous complaint, the matter will still be investigated, however it is advantageous if we can contact you to obtain further details. Inadequate information may result in us being unable to take any action.

If an appeal is lodged against an enforcement or other notice, we will notify anyone who informed us of the matter and ask if they wish to submit further information or appear at an inquiry to support the Council's case. The strength of local support can be crucial to the Council's success. However, at this stage, any representations become public documents which are available for public inspection, which includes the appellant and any legal representatives.