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Planning enforcement

We can look into complaints that don't appear to have permission. This includes

  • building work;
  • changes of use;
  • works to trees;
  • illegal adverts;
  • unauthorised work to listed buildings and in conservation areas
  • untidy land.

How to complain about a breach of control

Complaints about a breach of planning control must be made in writing. We will not accept complaints made verbally or that are anonymous. 

You can also e-mail or write to planning enforcement, Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7WF.

What will we do?

  • We will acknowledge all complaints within 5 working days.
  • When we have looked more fully into the complaint to establish if there is a breach of control we will decide what action we will take. We may decide to serve notices but we would prefer to resolve problems by negotiation.
  • We will treat all complaints in confidence and enforcement complaint files will not be open to inspection. We will also try to keep complainants advised of progress regularly during proceedings.

We will not accept anonymous complaints. All complaints must be in writing. 

What happens next?

We will let you know, by email or writing, when we get your complaint. We will also give you a response to your complaint. We will also give you an idea of the timing of key stages in our investigation. Timings and response will depend on the activity you are reporting.

All the information you give us will be in confidence and will only be used by the team as part of the investigation. Please give us all the information asked for on the form as well as any other information you think we will need.

To support complaints and justify the need for enforcement action we will sometimes ask neighbours to give evidence. If we issue an enforcement notice there is usually a right to appeal. Appeals go to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Most people exercise this right and, they do appeal, 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 we can prosecute them or enter their land to carry out works to correct the breach. We will then place a charge against the land to recover costs incurred when the property is sold.

Enforcement action is discretionary. What we can do varies case by case.

We are only allowed to use enforcement action where the "unauthorised development is causing significant harm".
We cannot decide to take action if the government thinks it would be trivial or not expedient.

Many courses of formal action depend on how long the use or development has been in existence.

For example, for breaches involving building, or using a building as a house, we can't serve a notice after four years.

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.

Planning contravention notice

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.

Planning enforcement notice

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.

Breach of conditions notice

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.

Injunctions and stop notices

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.

Untidy land notices

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.

Advertisements - (discontinuance notice)

People can display some advertisements without prior consent but we can prosecute where these are unsightly or threaten road safety.

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