Planning enforcement and breaches

If development takes place without our consent, it's known as a planning breach. This can include: 

  • carrying out building works or changing the use of a property (for example, from a house to a shop) without planning permission 
  • a building not built to an approved plan or not complying with the conditions on a planning permission 
  • carrying out works to a listed building without listed building consent 

You can report a suspected planning breach using our online form.

How we enforce planning decisions

Our priorities are to:

  • protect the local area
  • safeguard the environment
  • uphold local planning policy

When investigating a possible breach, we start by advising the person responsible of the problem, what they need to do to fix it and the powers we have if they fail to do so. In the majority of cases, this resolves the issue. If it doesn’t, then we may start formal action.

Most planning permission is valid up to 3 years of being granted. If you see works taking place, but aren’t aware of a recent planning application, it might not mean the works are unauthorised. Many minor works also don’t need our consent.

There is a right of appeal against an enforcement notice but there is also a cost involved. For more information on appealing enforcement notices, go to The Planning Inspectorate website.

Guidance notes

Guidance note 8 – How are planning enforcement regulations enforced? (PDF, 227KB)

Enforcement service plan Doc 35.1KB