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Planning Enforcement

We respond to reports of alleged breaches of planning control and we check that development is carried out in accordance with the correct planning permission.

Reporting an issue

If you report an alleged breach of planning control we will acknowledge it and deal with it according to our priority list. You will be updated on progress.  

Householder developments, housing and commercial developments, including changes of use, advertisements, untidy land, houses in multiple occupation, listed buildings, conservation areas and trees. If a development has planning permission, ensuring that it is carried out in accordance with the plans/details approved.


Our Priority Schedule

Priority A

Response Time 1 day

  1. Where an alleged breach could lead to serious damage being caused to land and/or buildings including large scale unauthorised engineering/construction works which would have an irreversible impact;
  2. Where an alleged breach relates to unauthorised works/demolition in progress to a Listed Building or Scheduled Ancient Monument;
  3. Where alleged breaches within a Conservation Area may have an irreversible effect on its appearance or the setting of a Listed Building;
  4. Where alleged breaches relate to on-going or unauthorised work to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or trees within a Conservation Area and there is a probability that an immediate response will stop any further damage being caused and that evidence of the work will be available only so long as the owner leaves it on site;
  5. Where there is an alleged breach of conditions which would fall into any of the above categories or the commencement of any major planning application without compliance with relevant pre-commencement conditions including those relating to potentially contaminated land;
  6. Where an alleged breach may have a life threatening or seriously harmful effect on human life.

Priority B

  1. Alleged breaches which the Local Planning Authority considers may affect the amenity of neighbours including change of use of land or buildings which is causing significant material harm;
  2. Unauthorised buildings and/or change of use of land or buildings which have the potential to cause long term damage to the environment and which, unless positive action is taken quickly, are likely to become more acute;
  3. Alleged breach of conditions & variation of planning permissions that do not fall within Priority A.

Priority C

  1. Alleged unauthorised building works to residential and commercial properties;
  2. Alleged business use from a residential property that does not fall within Priority B;
  3. Cases where a retrospective application has been refused and works/use may be on-going without planning permission.

Priority D

  1. Unauthorised adverts/signage/billboards/flyposting;
  2. Walls, fences, outbuildings, hardstandings;
  3. Untidy land/building in disrepair;
  4. Alleged breaches which may be significant in planning terms but no harm will be caused by any delay;
  5. Annual data match with Council Tax.

We will assess the likely impact of any breach of the planning regulations on public amenity and the environment before deciding on the course of action to take.

  • If works do not need planning permission - no further action will be taken
  • If works need planning permission but no application was made a retrospective planning application is required. This must be considered in the same way as if the works had not been carried out. If planning permission is then refused, formal action may be taken to remedy the situation
  • We may take formal action, for example issue a legal notice that must be complied with.
Current planning legislation allows the building of fences and walls without the need to apply for planning permission.  However, the height and positioning of such structures is limited to the following:
a) a wall or fence which is built adjacent to a highway (which includes the footpath) should not exceed 1 metre (approximately 3ft 3 ins) in height.
b) in other cases a wall or fence should not exceed 2 metres (approximately 6ft 6ins) in height
Where a wall or fence is higher than the above permitted limits, planning permission is normally required.  However, the height limits are not necessarily enforced rigidly.  Clearly, in domestic situations, a common sense approach has to be applied.  We will not normally take any action where, for example, a fence is erected only 15cm (6ins) or so above the permitted height or perhaps where a plant support trellis has been added which increases the height above the prescribed limits.
We will only consider taking matters further where the height limits have been exceeded significantly and where there is a notable detrimental effect on the outlook or amenities of neighbours.  You should bear in mind that regrettably, if a fence is within the permitted limits, we are prevented from taking action even if you object to it.

If the fence or wall to which you have referred does not fall within the above limits and the effect on you is significant, you are asked to put your complaint in writing.  You should give an indication of the location of the fence (draw a rough plan if you can) and its height and state why you consider the fence or wall to be unacceptable.
Please note that boundary disputes can occur where a neighbour erects a fence or wall, within the permitted limits on land not in his/her ownership.  This is a private matter between those concerned and we cannot get involved. 
Current planning legislation does not convey any controls over trees, shrubs, hedges or other plants other than trees subject to a protection order or within a Conservation area.  Again this is a civil matter and not something we can help you with.
Your complaint must be put in writing unless there are exceptional circumstances as to why you cannot do so.  All letters are treated in the strictest of confidence and your identity will not, under any circumstances, be disclosed without your express permission.

Current planning legislation allows the siting of outbuildings such as garages, sheds, greenhouses etc. within the garden areas of a dwelling house without the need to submit a planning application. However, there are restrictions on the size, height and siting of such buildings.

A building may be erected within the curtilage of a house for any purpose connected with the normal occupation of the property. This can include the keeping of poultry, bees, pet animals, birds or other livestock for the domestic needs and/or personal enjoyment of the occupants.

We will not normally take action in respect of minor deviations from the above limits. A common sense approach will be adopted but you are advised that if an outbuilding is within the limits, we do not have any powers to intervene on your behalf even if you object to the development.

Please note that this guidance only applies to single dwelling houses and not to flats, bedsits or other similar forms of accommodation.

If the outbuilding you refer to significantly exceeds the permitted limits and has an unacceptable impact on your property or your amenity, you should now pursue your complaint in writing.

Please give as much detail as possible (include a rough sketch if you can) and state what effect the building has on your property.

Your complaint must be put in writing unless there are exceptional circumstances as to why you cannot do so. All letters are treated in the strictest confidence and your identity will not, under any circumstances, be disclosed without your express permission.

Current planning legislation allows the building of extensions to houses without the need to apply for planning permission.

However, there are limits as to the size, height and positioning of an extension. The rules can be a little difficult to understand particularly where extensions have already been added in the past.

You can check the current requirements on the planning portal.

Different rules apply within a Conservation Area. Please contact us for advice.

If you consider that the extension is not in accordance with what is permitted, you should write to us and give details of the extension (enclose a rough sketch if you can) and tell us what your objections are. Please be aware that if the extension is within the permitted limits, we have no powers to take any action even if you object.

An extension includes a conservatory or sun lounge.

Your complaint must be put in writing unless there are exceptional reasons why you are unable to do so. All such letters are treated in the strictest confidence and your identity will not, under any circumstances, be revealed without your express permission.


Last Updated on Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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