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Planning Enforcement

Planning Enforcement

Enforcement customers' guide

The team follow an approved investigative practice and have produced an Enforcement Plan which will help provide an increased understanding of how the planning enforcement process operates.

However, before looking at what a breach of planning legislation is, it is important to understand what is NOT a breach. The following is an example of activities which are commonly mistaken by the public as being breaches:

  • Operating a business from home where the residential use remains the primary use and there is not significant and adverse impact upon the amenity of neighbouring residents. For example:
  1. A tradesperson who parks their work vehicle on their driveway at home or other business vehicles on the public highway would not require planning permission.
  2. The use of rooms in a house by the occupier to carry out a business with no employees or visitors to the property in relation to that business. 
  3. Hobbies or activities within the curtilage of a dwelling are likely to be incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling and therefore would not require planning permission. Eg. a householder repairing family cars on their property would not require planning permission, but a householder advertising and running a car repair business on a daily basis may require planning permission.  
  • Parking of a caravan within the curtilage of a residential property, provided it is not used as a completely separate residence.
  • Obstruction of a highway or public right of way, or parking of commercial vehicles on the highway in residential areas or on grass verges.
  • Boundary disputes (these are a civil matter).
  • Adverts which have deemed consent in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) Regulations 2007.
  • Breaches of restrictions imposed by deeds and covenants (these are a civil matter).
  • Where development is 'permitted development', as defined in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO), and any subsequent amendments.
  • Clearing land of undergrowth, bushes and trees provided they are not protected trees and are not within a conservation area or protected by a planning condition.
  • Outdoor lighting or CCTV fixed to existing buildings (other than a listed building)
  • Works conducted by external services to the power, water, gas and communication networks.

Development that needs Planning Permission

There are two main types:

  • Deemed permission granted under the GPDO, known as Permitted Development. Some permissions under the GPDO are subject to limitations and conditions. Provided the development falls within the  terms of the GPDO, planning permission is not required from the Local Planning Authority and there is no further action that the team can take. For further information please visit the Householder Permitted Development  or the Business Permitted Development pages.
  • Express permission (full or outline) granted following the submission of a planning application to the Local Planning Authority. Further information is available on the Planning approvals,Permissions and Consents page.

 In summary, a breach of planning control may result from:

  • Carrying out work either without planning permission or in a way that is different to that which has been granted planning permission (non-compliance with approved plans).
  • Carrying out work without complying with the planning conditions attached to a planning permission (non-compliance with planning conditions).
  • Carrying out work otherwise in accordance with the limitations and conditions set out in the GPDO (permitted development).
  • Changing the use of land or property without planning permission or without compliance with the limitations and conditions set out in the GPDO or Town and Country   Planning (Use Classes) Order 2015

Carrying out Unauthorised Development is not a criminal offence.

Cases involving Listed Buildings

Works that are not considered like for like repair or replacement will require listed building consent.  Where works have been carried out without consent a criminal offence may have been committed. Subject to the extent and nature of the works, consideration will be given to whether to commence criminal proceedings and/or serve a Listed Building Enforcement Notice.  It is recommended that advice be sought prior to carrying out any works to a listed building, a Duty Planning Officer is available to speak to or visit the Conservation Areas & Listed Buildings pages for further information.


The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 allows the display of some classes of advertisements and signs without the need to get consent from the Local Planning Authority. Where an advertisement is being displayed without the appropriate consents it constitutes a criminal offence. Where the advertisement causes serious harm to the amenity or to public safety the team will ask for it to be removed. If the advertisement continues to be displayed after this time formal prosecution proceedings will be considered. Please refer to the guide to Outdoor Advertising or complete an application for Advertisement Consent from the website.

Works to trees subject to Tree Preservation Orders or within a Conservation Area

The Council make Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) to protect the visual amenity, particularly where they are threatened by development. Similar protection applies to trees within Conservation Areas. It is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully destroy or damage a protected tree in a manner likely to destroy it, without the Council's consent. If work is undertaken without consent the team will assess the nature of the works and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. For further information, application for consent and guidance please see the  Protected trees and Hedges page.  

Unsightly land or buildings

The condition of certain buildings or land can cause harm to the visual amenity of an area and the team sometimes receive enquiries relating to such matters. Where the condition of land or buildings is causing significant harm to public amenity, consideration will be given to serving a notice under the Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning 1990. These powers can only be used in certain circumstances and not all cases are suitable. If it is decided upon to serve a notice it will specify measures to improve the appearance of the land or buildings. If those measures are not taken within a specified time an offence has been committed.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page where you will find further information.