This page outline how we will deal with complaints about unauthorised building work and changes of use, trees, illegal adverts, unauthorised work to listed buildings and in conservation areas, untidy land, enforcement of the Building Regulations and reporting dangerous buildings.
Complaints about a breach of planning control must be made in writing.
We will not accept complaints made verbally or that are anonymous. Once received the complaint will be acknowledged by email or in writing, setting out the timescales for investigation and response to the complainant. The timescale for investigation and response will be dependant on the nature of the unauthorised activity. Any information given will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be viewed by the Development Management Team as part of any investigation.
When you report a breach you must give the address of the property concerned and full details of the alleged breach with relevant dates, times and other details where known.
Sometimes we have to call on neighbours to give evidence to support complaints and justify the need for enforcement action.
There is usually a right of appeal against enforcement to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and most people will exercise this right and at that stage, we must prove our case.
If any appeal is not successful the Notice comes into force. If the appeal is successful then the MHCLG automatically grants permission as we would with a normal application.
If the person in breach does not comply with a notice then we can then prosecute or take direct action to enter land and carry out works in default. We will then place a charge against the land to recover costs incurred when the property is sold.
The precise form of any enforcement action depends on the case concerned and on legal advice but please remember that enforcement action is discretionary.
The Government says that councils must only use enforcement powers where the unauthorised development is causing significant harm. We can therefore decide not to take action if it considers action is trivial or simply not expedient.
Many courses of formal action are dependent on how long the use or development has been in existence.
With breaches of planning control arising from building operations or using a building as a house, we cannot serve a Notice after 4 years from the commencement of the breach.
Other planning breaches such as unauthorised changes of use are subject to a 10-year time limit from commencement. After that time, we cannot take action and the use can become lawful. The landowner can even apply for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) after this period and if the evidence is clear regularise the situation.
This is a preliminary notice which tells people of a breach of control and enables us to ask about land ownership, unauthorised activities and changes of use on the land.
This is the notice to deal with most unauthorised development. The Notice will specify the time when the notice becomes effective and it will specify the steps and timescale to correct the breach. The person in breach, however can appeal before the notice takes effect thus suspending the notice until the MHCLG determines the appeal.
We will serve this notice when a developer has failed to comply with conditions attached to planning permission. The notice will specify the steps necessary to comply with the conditions. There is no right of appeal against this notice because there is a right of appeal against conditions imposed when we grant consent and the applicant has the ability to appeal at that stage.
Used in exceptional circumstances where we consider it necessary to restrain any breach. However, this method is open to legal challenge which can seriously delay outcomes.
We can serve a notice on the owner of any land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and we consider has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area. The Notice specifies what needs to be done to correct the situation.
People can display some advertisements without prior consent but we can prosecute where these are unsightly or threaten road safety.
You are strongly advised to discuss the breach of planning control with us prior to pursuing an appeal option. Should you wish to continue through the appeal process legal or independent planning advice should be sought.
Under certain circumstances you may be able to obtain free advice through Planning Aid. For more information visit Planning Aid website.