Planning enforcement

General information

When a development takes place without permission the Council has a range of enforcement powers available to it.

Firstly, it must establish whether a breach of planning control has taken place, what harm (if any) is caused by the breach and how to remedy the situation. The Council is not obliged to take enforcement action where a breach of planning control has occurred. However, it must consider whether doing so is in the public interest, taking account of all relevant factors.

Breaches of planning control can occur in many ways. These include changing the use of land or buildings or carrying out building work without permission, or not complying with the details of a permission which has been granted.

In most cases, a breach of planning control is not a criminal offence. However, if the Council serves an enforcement notice and the recipient does not comply, they then become liable to prosecution.

In the most severe cases the Council can consider applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent a breach of planning control. Failure to comply with an injunction can lead to imprisonment for contempt of court.


  1. Enforcement Notices are documents served by the Council that require an unauthorised use to be stopped and/or any buildings or structures that do not have planning permission to be removed. The Council must find out the names of all the owners and occupiers of the property and make sure they are all served with a notice. The notice itself has to be precise about what the Council wants to be done and by what date. There are rights of appeal to the Secretary of State and the notices can be challenged if they are inaccurate.
  2. When conditions imposed on a planning permission are being disregarded, the Council can serve a Breach of Condition Notice on the developer or occupier. If this is not complied with, we can take legal action. There are no rights of appeal to the Secretary of State against a Breach of Condition Notice.
  3. Arrangements to inspect the premises will be made by the planning enforcement officer dealing with the case. This will happen no later than 21 days after the compliance period runs out. The inspection will be conducted to find out whether the requirements of the enforcement notice have been met.
  4. If the unauthorised development remains in place after enforcement notices come into effect the persons responsible for complying with the notice become liable to prosecution. The Council will start legal action as soon as possible and may also consider carrying out works itself to remedy the breach.

To notify the Council in confidence of suspected breaches of planning control, please complete our complaint form with as much detail as possible.

Planning Enforcement Notices

Click on the link below to view notices served.