Planning control breaches
In the majority of cases, people obtain all necessary planning consents from the Council before carrying out development. However, unauthorised developments without consent or failure to comply with conditions attached to Planning Permissions do sometimes occur. Where a breach of planning control is reported, an Enforcement Officer will investigate and assess the complaint to establish what, if any, the most appropriate course of action should be. In fact, most of the complaints we receive concerning development control matters are resolved without the need to resort to formal enforcement action by the Council.
It is important to stress that the decision to take formal enforcement action is discretionary and must be well founded. The City Council has to decide whether it is expedient and in the public interest to take formal action following a complete investigation into an alleged breach.
Any building work that normally requires planning permission from the Council but is carried out without first obtaining such permission, constitutes unauthorised development. This is one of the most common causes of complaint that we receive from members of the public.
Carrying out unauthorised development is not a criminal offence and therefore cannot be treated as one, unless the property is a listed building. More often than not, unauthorised developments can be regularized by requesting that the owner submits a retrospective planning application for the work.
Please note that not all building work requires planning permission. Permitted Development allowances do allow some specified building works and changes of use to proceed without the need to submit an application for planning permission.
What we can investigate
- Unauthorised building developments
- Unauthorised changes of use
- Unauthorised works to Listed Buildings
- Display of unauthorised Adverts/Signage
- Untidy land belonging to private owners
- Unauthorised work to protected trees
- Unauthorised work to trees in Conservation Areas
What we cannot investigate
- Matters relating to dangerous buildings/structures. Please contact the Building Consultancy.
- Breaches occurring on or within a public highway. Please contact Streetpride to report any problems on 0333 200 6981.
- Matters relating to noise disturbance or pollution. To report any problems please contact Pollution Control on 01332 642020.
How we deal with complaints
Most breaches of planning control are reported to the Council directly by members of the public. The procedure outlined below is a brief guide to how we may respond to these complaints:
- Complaint received and logged.
- Planning history check of the site carried out.
- If required, a site visit by an Enforcement Officer is made to establish the nature of the alleged breach and gather evidence.
- Where a breach is found, the landowner may be requested to take necessary action to remedy the breach. We may request: the owner submits a retrospective planning application to regularise the unauthorised development/activity. the owner provides information that proves that Planning Permission is not required.
- Where there is a repeated failure to comply with our requests, and where the breach continues, the Council will consider taking formal enforcement action. This action will depend on the type of breach that has occurred. Enforcement action will only be commenced when we consider it expedient to do so and when all other reasonable options to remedy the breach have been exhausted.
Please note formal enforcement action can be a long and complex process. It is not an immediate solution to any unauthorised development/activity and in some circumstances there is a right of appeal against the action.
Please view our Planning Enforcement Register for more information.
If you want to make a complaint
If you wish to make a complaint about a suspected breach of planning control, please be prepared to provide as much information as possible. We will need to know:
- The address or detailed location of the site.
- Precise details of the alleged breach.
- When the alleged breach started/took place.
- The nature of any building work/uses of the property.
- The previous and current uses of the property.
- Names, addresses, telephone numbers of persons responsible.
- Your name, address and contact number (All complaints are treated as confidential)
Remember: Our best sources of information about suspected breaches of planning control are members of the public. The information you provide may be crucial to our investigation of alleged breaches.
If you have a complaint or want to report an alleged breach of planning control please fill in our online complaint form. This will be received by our Planning Enforcement Team directly.
So that we can contact you regarding the complaint, please provide your name and at least one other complainant's details. If you provide your email address you will receive an automatic acknowledgement for your records. We cannot accept anonymous reports.
We will treat all information provided in the strictest confidence, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972. We will only use it for a legal reason or the purpose it is given. We will only share information when we have your consent or we need to ask another department or partner to respond to a specific comment or request you have made.