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Planning enforcement

A breach of planning control is defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as “the carrying out of a development without the required planning permission, or failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted”. 

Our Planning Enforcement Team investigates complaints about possible unauthorised developments and also monitors planning permissions and conditions to make sure they are complied with. 

In this work we follow:

Before reporting a possible breach of planning control

If you want to make a complaint about an activity you think is unauthorised or more information about one that is already being investigated, please read our Planning Enforcement Leaflet 2015: 

If you wish to report a possible breach please use our online reporting form.

Not all development needs planning permission, but as the legislation is complex we strongly recommend you discuss any planned alterations with our Planning Team and visit the Planning Portal. 

The following provides general guidance on situations where planning permission may not be needed. 

Permitted developments

Article 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (referred to later as ‘the Order’) allows permitted developments – these are certain minor developments or changes of use that can be made without the need to apply to us for express planning permission. You may still need to apply for prior approval in certain circumstances or to apply for approval under the Building Regulations or comply with other private property rights such as leases, covenants or Party Wall obligations.   

These permitted developments are listed in Schedule 2 of the Order and are changed from time to time.

Common permitted developments include these examples:

  • Most domestic buildings’ extensions
  • Domestic outbuildings
  • Fences
  • Hard standings in gardens
  • Decking
  • Drives. 

However permitted developments will not be allowed if:

  • The existing building or use is unlawful
  • Any condition attached to a previous grant of planning permission precludes the ability to carry out certain developments, which would otherwise have been permitted development. 

Also Article 4 of the Order allows the council to make a Direction withdrawing any class of permitted development if it considers it should not be carried out unless express permission is granted. These Article 4 Directions usually seek to control:

  • The erection of certain structures
  • Enclosure with fences
  • Formation of vehicular access
  • Laying on of services such as water or electricity
  • Temporary uses such as motor sports or markets or siting of caravans. 

Visit our LocalView to check if land you are interested in is subject to an Article 4 Direction. 

Immunity from enforcement action 

If you believe any activity or work you have carried out without first obtaining planning permission is now immune from enforcement action because it has exceeded the time limit (10 years in respect of a change of use or 4 years for building or other operations and a change of use to a domestic residence) you can formally apply to us for a Lawful Development Certificate via the government’s Planning Portal.