How we deal with unauthorised development

Unauthorised development includes:

  • building work and development that doesn't have planning permission
  • changes of use to buildings that doesn't have planning permission
  • development not carried out in accordance with approved plans
  • unauthorised demolition
  • unauthorised work to a listed building which affects its character or appearance
  • removal of or works carried out to protected trees and hedgerows without consent or proper notification
  • display of advertisements that require consent
  • land or buildings which are derelict, unkempt or overgrown

Most unauthorised development is reported by neighbours or picked up when we monitor a development.

We investigate reports of unauthorised development as soon as possible and give priority to any building works that need to be dealt with quickly before the work becomes too advanced. Priority cases will be visited within two days. Other cases will be visited within five weeks.

Monthly update

The number of compliance cases we are currently investigating 299
The number of compliance cases we resolved in September 13

If the investigation shows that no unauthorised development has taken place we will inform the person who reported it that the work is authorised and doesn't need planning permission.

 Planning Enforcement Policy [PDF, 200KB]

Planning contravention notice

If we are unsure if the building work is unauthorised, we can issue a planning contravention notice to the developer or occupier. This provides us with further information and an explanation on what building work is taking place and why planning permission has not been applied for.

We will suggest a planning application is submitted if planning permission is required. This allows us to get full details of the work and consult any neighbours before making a decision. Once an application has been submitted it will be treated like any other application. It may be possible to make amendments or impose conditions which overcome the concerns of neighbours.

Enforcement notice

If an application is not submitted we can serve an enforcement notice which requires the use of the land to stop and/or any buildings or structures that don't have planning permission to be removed. However if the unauthorised work isn't causing any harm then we may decide not to take enforcement action. The notice has to state what action we want taken and by what date.

Notices can be challenged if they are inaccurate and you can appeal a planning enforcement notice.

Breach of condition notice

When conditions imposed on a planning permission are being disregarded we can serve a breach of condition notice on the developer or occupier. If this is not complied with, we can take legal action.

We will advise the developer or occupier in writing of our decision and give them an opportunity to cease the breach before we serve the notice. You cannot appeal a breach of condition notice.

In all cases, we will inform the person who reported the unauthorised work and neighbours will be advised of any appeal against a notice. They will be able to make further comments to the Planning Inspector dealing with the case; however, we cannot keep names and addresses confidential at this stage.


Confirmation of no planning enforcement action

If an interested party, such as a solicitor or owner, wishes to receive confirmation in writing from us either that no enforcement action will be taken following an investigation or that an enforcement notice will be withdrawn, we can confirm this by letter for an administration fee of £88.