One of the main functions of the planning system is to control development and the use of land in order to protect our environment.

Occasionally new development takes place or the use of land may change without planning permission having first been granted. Development may also be carried out in a way that does not follow approved plans and conditions. In such circumstances we can ensure that these situations are remedied. Some small alterations to your home can be made without needing to apply for planning permission. Leaflets are available to explain this process.

If you are considering works to your property then we would recommend that you contact us in advance for impartial advice.

How do I make a complaint?

If you think a problem exists we would be grateful if you contact us for advice either in person, by telephone, e-mail or in writing. Please provide us with as much detail as possible about the exact nature of your concern. The kind of details we require are:

  • The exact location of the site
  • What has happened on the land and when this started
  • The names and addresses of any persons involved
  • The exact nature of your concern (e.g. an indication of any harm caused)

Your complaint will be treated as confidential and your name will not be revealed.

If further action is required, your support in providing evidence and information to help support our case will be very important. This however is completely voluntary.

What happens to my complaint?

Once you have made a complaint we will try to acknowledge this within 5 working days confirming the name of the Officer dealing with the complaint and contact details of that Officer, together with the priority assigned to the case.

All the complaints we receive will be given the same attention. However due to the number and wide variety of complaints received, we have to prioritise according to the seriousness of each individual case.:

  • High A situation that causes serious harm to living conditions or the environment (we will aim to carry out a site visit within 2 working days)
  • Medium A situation that has a wide impact on the local neighbourhood and beyond (we will aim to carry out a site visit within 7 working days)
  • Low A situation that is not causing immediate harm (we will aim to carry out a site visit within 15 working days)

What action will be taken?

An inspection will be carried out and we will gather as much information as possible to establish the facts.

If a problem is identified we have a number of options:

  • We will attempt to negotiate with the owner/occupier to resolve the problem informally.
  • We may ask the owner/occupier to submit a planning application where we feel it is likely that planning permission will be given.
  • We may decide on no further action if for example it is a minor or technical problem causing no harm.
  • We may take formal action if the problem is so serious that negotiation is inappropriate or has failed.

We will inform you of our decision and the reason for it.

NB. We will not condone breaches of planning control and will exercise our discretion to take enforcement action if it is considered expedient to do so.

If no further action is taken.

Most breaches are not a criminal offence therefore where a breach of planning control has been identified this is not, in itself, a reason to take enforcement action, which is discretionary. There must be sound planning reasons to take action when a breach has occurred.

The reasons we may not take action are because:

  • If the breach happened over 4 years ago in the case of operational development and the change of use of any building to use as a single dwelling house, or 10 years in the case of other changes of use or breach of conditions, it is immune from action.
  • The breach is not “expedient” to pursue. For example, taking lengthy and expensive enforcement action on a conservatory which is only marginally above the permitted development allowance would be pointless, if an application to retain such a building is likely to be granted planning permission.

NB. You will encounter a number of problems if you do not obtain the relevant planning permission. Another difficulty arises if you try to sell your property and have carried out works without planning permission.

If formal action is taken

Taking formal action means the issuing of a legal notice on the owner/occupier and any other person(s) with an interest in the land. The Notice will state clearly what the breach is, what must be done to put the matter right and how long they have.

The possible forms of action we can take are:

  • The issuing of an Enforcement Notice, to remedy unauthorised development
  • The serving of a Breach of Condition Notice, to remedy the breach of a condition on a planning permission
  • The serving of a Section 215 Notice, to remedy untidy land or buildings If a Notice is not complied with we may prosecute or take direct action.

NB. Where a formal Notice is issued it is registered as a charge on the land.

How long to enforce?

There is no set timescale for investigating a breach of planning control. Statutory procedures must be followed and therefore the time needed to investigate a complaint will vary from case to case.

Issues that cannot be enforced.

Some examples are provided on matters which the Enforcement Section does not deal with:

Some examples are provided on matters which the Enforcement Section does not deal with:

  • Matters relating solely to the emission of noise, smells, dust and other forms of environmental pollution, unless involving a breach of planning control.
  • Obstruction of any road or right of way.
  • On street parking problems.
  • Party Wall Act disputes.
  • Matters relating to private rights of access, neighbour and boundary disputes. These are matters of civil law and advice should be sought from a solicitor.
  • Matters relating to the restrictions imposed on property by a covenant. As above, this is a matter of civil law and advice should be sought from a solicitor.

This is not a definitive list and you are welcome to contact us for further advice and guidance.

How to contact us

If you consider that a breach of planning control has taken place, you should contact the Enforcement Team:

Enforcement Team

Planning Enforcement,
Sardis House,
Sardis Road,
CF37 1DU

Tel: 01443 425004

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