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Most development, including the change of use of land or
buildings, the provision of new buildings or extensions to existing
buildings, needs planning permission.
The planning process ensures that development is appropriate and
that it is suitable within a particular location. Some small scale
developments do not need planning permission.
Sometimes development is carried out without the required
planning permission. Similarly, developments take place which do
not follow the approved detailed drawings or comply with conditions
imposed by the council.
Such development can cause serious harm to the way that people
live. Residents and businesses have a right to expect that such
unauthorised activities are dealt with quickly and effectively.
Other situations that can be considered for planning enforcement
- unauthorised display of advertisements
- unauthorised work on protected trees
- unauthorised work on buildings listed as being of special
architectural or historic interest
- unauthorised demolition of some buildings within a conservation
- unauthorised storage of hazardous materials
- removal of protected hedgerows
- allowing land to fall into such a poor condition that it harms
the amenity of the area.
The term used to describe all these cases is a "breach of
Where the council receives a complaint about a breach of
planning control, the enforcement team will undertake an
investigation and the council will decide what action is
appropriate and proportionate in each case. It is important to
remember three key points:
- it is not a criminal offence to carry out development without
planning permission, although work on a listed building, a
protected tree or the display of an advertisement without consent
can make the person liable to immediate prosecution
- enforcement action can only be taken where there has been
material harm in planning terms
- developers are always strongly advised to stop work where there
is a breach of planning control until the matter is resolved.
Planning enforcement can only deal with matters arising from
breaches of planning control under planning law and cannot, for
example, deal with neighbour disputes or investigate questions of
If you believe there has been a breach of control, you can
make a complaint.