Planning Enforcement

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What is Planning Enforcement and how does it work?

The Council see planning enforcement as a crucial part of the planning service. Enforcement Officers within the Planning Department investigate alleged breaches of planning control that can result from the carrying out of development before the necessary planning approval has been granted. When development takes place without permission the Council has a full range of enforcement powers available to establish whether a breach of planning control has taken place, what harm is caused as a result of the breach and how to remedy the situation.

Enforcing compliance with planning control can be both time consuming and complex. Cases will be judged against a set priority list, which will speed up the response to a complaint and ensure that residents are kept well informed of the progress. In most cases the Council will try to negotiate compliance rather than pursue formal action. However, in those cases where serious environmental damage or harm to the amenities of neighbouring residents is taking place, or where damage is being caused to protected trees and/or listed buildings, then the Council will use the full range of powers available to bring the matter speedily under control.

Whilst it is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building or a protected tree, it is not illegal or an offence to carry out a development or use that does not have proper planning permission. It is merely unauthorised and no criminal offence has been committed. Only when the Council have served formal enforcement or similar notices, all avenues of appeal have been exhausted and time periods for compliance have expired, does a use or development become illegal and a criminal offence.

The person against whom an enforcement notice is served has rights of appeal which must be respected although this may result in some delay in securing a resolution of the matter.

The Council can only use its enforcement powers effectively if there is sufficient evidence available to demonstrate clearly that a breach of planning and/or listed building control has occurred.