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Planning Enforcement: Our Response to Breaches of Planning Control

Courses of action we can take to remedy breaches of planning control

Deciding whether action should be taken

When a breach of planning control happens, we have to decide whether it's beneficial to take action to remedy it. We have a legal power as the local planning authority to make this decision. Before doing so, we take into account the circumstances of each case.  

Sometimes we may decide not to take action at all.

This could be because:

  • the development or activity taking place may already have planning permission (you can search planning applications online)
  • the development or activity taking place may not need planning permission and may be 'permitted development'
  • although being in breach of planning control, a development or activity taking place is causing little environmental impact
  • there's insufficient evidence of a breach of planning control, and the most beneficial action is for the local planning authority to continue monitoring the situation
  • the development or activity taking place has been built, or has been going on for so long (ten years for most uses, four years for buildings) that it is immune from enforcement

Members of the public, or town and parish councils, can't take enforcement action themselves.

Remedying breaches of planning control

If a breach of planning control is identified, we'll try and resolve issues by negotiation first. Most breaches are dealt with informally through the co-operation of the landowner or developer, either by removing unauthorised buildings, stopping unauthorised uses, or submitting a retrospective planning application.

In other cases, if the landowner or developer will not co-operate, we may have to consider more formal action.

Rapid remedial action is only possible, or appropriate, in a small number of cases, such as where there are unauthorised works to protected trees or listed buildings.

We can use our discretion to decide which form of Icon for pdf formal action [8KB]  we'll use to resolve a breach of planning control.

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