About planning enforcement

What is Planning enforcement

Planning enforcement is a discretionary power under the Town and Country Planning Act to investigate alleged reports about development that may have been carried out without permission or consent. Our Enforcement Team also investigate unlawful works to protected trees, advertisements which do not have consent, unauthorised works to listed buildings and untidy land where it is deemed to adversely impact on the surrounding area.

Enforcement action is at the discretion of the local authority to ensure that unauthorised development is dealt with in a way that balances the protection of buildings, the environment and the amenity of neighbours. This will consider national and local planning policies and our enforcement plan

Planning enforcement can be complex and as such the investigation of alleged breaches can be lengthy.

Concerns about noise, light, odour, bonfires or pests are not planning enforcement issues, but you can report them to us

Land ownership or disputes regarding party walls or boundary fences are not a planning enforcement matter. You can look at the Land Registry or the Planning Portal for more information.

Concerns relating to roads, traffic or footpaths need to be directed to Essex County Council. You can look at their website for more information.

Enforcement Notices

These are legal documents which can be served on people who have breached planning control without having the required permissions. It is the most widely used notice and could:  

  • require an activity or use to cease
  • request the removal of an unauthorised structure
  • ask for a development to be changed to make it more acceptable.

An enforcement notice is issued as a last resort and anyone receiving an enforcement notice can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The Council cannot require compliance with the notice until an appeal decision has been made.

Guidance about making an appeal against an enforcement notice is also available on Planning Portal.

There are other notices which can be served to tackle breaches of planning control, further details are shown in our Local Enforcement Plan.

Enforcement Appeal Process

If an Enforcement notice has been served on you, you can appeal against this notice. Details of how to this can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website. You must lodge your appeal before the enforcement notice takes effect, this date is shown on the notice.

Once you have lodged an appeal the timelines for determination of an appeal are set by the Planning Inspectorate. Average times for the determination of appeals can be found on their website.

Comment on an appeal

Anyone can comment on an enforcement notice appeal. Find the case on the appeals casework portal from the Planning Inspectorate.

The deadline for comments is 6 weeks after the start date of the appeal.

The Planning Inspectorate also publish detailed guidance about taking part in an appeal which can also be found on their website.