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Policy statement

Local enforcement plan

Last updated March 2023


The purpose of the planning system is to deliver sustainable communities, ensuring that development occurs in the right places and makes a positive contribution to people’s lives. This means providing homes and jobs in the right locations, allowing people to extend their homes and businesses when it is appropriate to so and enhancing the quality of life. The planning system must also protect and enhance the natural and historic environment and conserve the countryside and open spaces, that are important to everyone.

To have an effective planning system in Wyre Forest and to ensure the public has confidence in the planning system, the local planning authority must ensure they are ready to take effective enforcement action when it is expedient to do so in the public interest.

Enforcement action is discretionary and, depending on the degree of harm, it may not be expedient to take enforcement action.

Examples of enforcement action that Wyre Forest District Council has taken can be found on our planning webpages of the Wyre Forest District Council website.

Policy and legislative context

National legislation and guidance

The key legislative and statutory instruments relevant to enforcement are:

  • The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)
  • The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012.
  • The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended, or any Order amending, revoking and/or re-enacting that order with or without modification)

Government guidance and regulation is also provided in the following:

  • The National Planning Policy Framework 2019 (or any future amendment)
  • Planning Practice Guidance

This Local Enforcement Plan has been prepared in accordance with the guidance set out in paragraph 58 of the National Planning Policy Framework - Revised, February 2019 (NPPF), which states:

“Effective enforcement is important to maintain public confidence in the planning system. Enforcement action is discretionary, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control. They should consider publishing a local enforcement plan to manage enforcement proactively, in a way that is appropriate to their area. This should set out how they will monitor the implementation of planning permissions, investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development and take action where appropriate.”

The Wyre Forest District Council Local Plan was adopted in April 2022 and sets out the vision and the policies guiding development in the district and is therefore a tool used to guide decision on breaches of planning.

The general approach to enforcement - guiding principles

Government guidance on enforcement focuses not just on the impact of any breach on the complainant but on the rights of the owner or occupier where the alleged breach is occurring. With this in mind, the council is committed to acting in a fair and consistent manner. When exercising its enforcement functions the council will act in a way that is:

  • Consistent and fair. We will look at past cases and try to take a similar approach, for consistency, where this seems fair and reasonable. Cases will be investigated in accordance with the priorities set out within this plan.
  • Transparent and accountable. Members, residents, existing and potential local businesses, complainants, alleged offenders and council staff should understand how we provide the service and the principles that guide it. We will provide an easy-to-access service, where the procedures, level of service provided and the rights of appeal for the alleged offenders are clearly explained and easy to understand.
  • Proportionate and targeted

Reporting a breach

What constitutes a breach?

Planning Enforcement only seeks to regulate the planning system. It does not relate to:

  • private civil matters;
  • the Party Wall Act 1986;
  • pest, noise nuisance and light pollution (where it is not associated with an unlawful development or any other breach in planning control)
  • building control structural issues;
  • or when there has been no material change in the use of a building or land.

Guidance on how issues about such matters can be pursued is set out on page 8 and in Appendix Two.

Planning Enforcement will investigate the following:

  • Unlawful development
  • Works to a listed building
  • Installing an unauthorised advertisement
  • Works to a tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order or located in a Conservation area
  • Use of a caravan for permanent residency or stationing of a caravan for permanent residency that is not incidental to a dwelling house and involves the use of land for more than permitted without being located in a park with a camping and caravan permit
  • Not building in accordance with the conditions set out in the Planning Permission decision notice or s106 agreement
  • Development impacting upon public amenity

Process for reporting a breach

Complaints about alleged breaches of planning control will only be accepted in writing using the council’s enforcement complaint form.

You can also e-mail all of the information the form asks for to or write to the Enforcement Section, Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7WF.

Anonymous complaints will not usually be investigated unless relating to a matter of public safety. The council determines whether the alleged breach merits investigation. Complainants who do not give their personal details will be advised to contact either their local ward member or their parish council who may then raise their concerns on their behalf. Personal details provided by a complainant will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed unless required as a result of any formal court proceedings.

The enforcement process at Wyre Forest

  1. Complaint received via Wyre Forest District Council planning webpage
  2. The complaint is allocated to a Planning Monitoring and Enforcement Officer.
  3. Officer contacts complainant to acknowledge complaint
  4. Officer determines what priority the case is to be given (see table 2) and carries out first site visit to investigate the alleged breach of planning
  5. Officers decides on course of action
  6. An email / letter to the complainant, setting out outcome of first investigation (either pending further investigation, setting out case-specific timescale (where possible) or case closed) will be sent. If enforcement action is ongoing, a regular email / letter will be sent to the complainant keeping them informed.
  7. If enforcement action is to be pursued contact is made with the person/company subject to the enforcement complaint to discuss a way forward

The council has two planning monitoring and enforcement officers and to make the best use of resources available it is important to prioritise the complaints received in accordance with the seriousness of the alleged breach. This will initially be decided by the council following receipt of the complaint but may be subject to change following a site inspection or when further information comes to light.

Timescales for first investigation (including site visit where necessary) following receipt of a planning breach:




Priority One

Severe Irreversible Harm


Breaches of listed building control (which include damage to or demolition of listed buildings)

Works to trees which are protected by Tree Preservation Orders/within Conservation Areas

Damaging works to SSSIs

Demolition of building in a conservation area

Investigations will commence and a site visit will take place, wherever possible, on the same working day or failing that the working day after receipt (subject to Monitoring and Enforcement Officer availability)

Priority Two

Harm to amenity or risk to public safety

Public risk from breaches of condition

Unauthorised encampments on private land

On-going building works, including extensions where there is continuous harm or danger


Investigations will commence within 5 working days of receipt; a site visit will take place within 10 working days of receipt (subject to Monitoring and Enforcement Officer availability)


Priority Three

No significant harm


Domestic structures such as extensions, sheds, and fences

Breaches of planning conditions that have little or no harm


Investigations will commence within 15 working days of receipt; a site visit will take place within 20 working days (subject to Monitoring and Enforcement Officer availability)


It is important to note that, just because there may be a breach of planning control, this in itself is not sufficient reason to take enforcement action. The council must firstly decide, having given regard to policies contained within the Development Plan, guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and all other material planning considerations, whether or not it is ‘expedient’ to take formal action. Generally, expediency means an unauthorised development that is causing serious harm, rather than it being a minor or technical breach of planning control. The matter of ‘expediency’ covers a range of matters upon which a judgement needs to be based. A key issue is whether the breach would unacceptably affect public amenity or use of land that should be protected in the public interest. Any enforcement action should be proportionate to the breach so, for example, it would be inappropriate to take formal action against a trivial or technical breach. Examples of harm resulting from a breach of planning control, include;

  • harm to amenity
  • highway safety issues
  • noise nuisance
  • loss of daylight or privacy

This is not an exhaustive list of ‘harm’ but indicates that there must be recognisable harm in planning terms.

If the development is causing a degree of harm then Wyre Forest District Council will start procedures to require the landowner who carried out the development without permission, or who is in breach of planning, to ‘undo’ the development or stop the carrying out or continuation of the development which is in breach of planning. Wyre Forest District Council will also seek to remedy the planning breach, which may involve several site visits, meetings and duration since receiving the initial complaint. If this occurs officers will ensure the complainant is kept up to date of the procedure being undertaken.

Works to a listed building or to a TPO tree or the installation of advertisements without permission are criminal offences and will lead to immediate enforcement action.

If the development falls within Permitted Development Rights, which allows homeowners and businesses to enlarge and alter their homes/buildings subject to meeting specific conditions/criteria without requiring planning permission, then the enforcement case is likely to be closed.

If the development does not fall within permitted development rights but the degree of harm is not serious, then the council will invite a retrospective planning application to be submitted.

The planning enforcement team will not investigate the following:

  • neighbour disputes or other civil issues including boundary disputes or enforcement of covenants. In these matters, complainants need to contact their solicitor or local Citizens Advice Bureau
  • the use of or development on adopted highways, pavements or highway grass verges. These matters should be addressed to Worcestershire County Council as the Highways Authority
  • dangerous structures. These matters should be addressed to the council's building control team 
  • fly-tipping, litter and fly posting on public places. These should be addressed to the council's waste and street scene service 

What happens if the complaint is against you?

If a complaint is received that affects you then the first thing that will happen is either you will be contacted (where your details are known to the council) or the site in question will be visited by an officer. The purpose of this visit is to establish the facts of the case and whether there is any basis to the allegations made. The officer will, where necessary, take measurements and photographs of the development or activity taking place. This site inspection may be undertaken without any prior notification.

If there is a breach of planning control you will be advised of the details of the breach and what steps need to be taken to rectify the breach or regularise the situation. If you have no involvement with the identified breach no action will be taken against you.

You will be given a reasonable period of time (subject to the nature of the breach) to resolve any breach of planning control. If compliance is not secured through amicable negotiations or the submission of a retrospective planning application formal action may be instigated.

The Government’s Planning Policy Guidance states that:

“The provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights such as Article 1 of the First Protocol, Article 8 and Article 14 are relevant when considering enforcement action. There is a clear public interest in enforcing planning law and planning regulation in a proportionate way. In deciding whether enforcement action is taken, local planning authorities should, where relevant, have regard to the potential impact on the health, housing needs and welfare of those affected by the proposed action, and those who are affected by a breach of planning control.”

Therefore, Wyre Forest District Council will give regard to this when considering enforcement action.

Proactive compliance and monitoring

In addition to the service’s role in reacting to complaints regarding alleged unauthorised developments or breaches of condition, the council provides a proactive approach to ensure compliance with planning permissions and other consents. It should be noted that it
is the responsibility of individual developers to comply with the conditions imposed on any planning permission or consent or with any terms identified in legal agreements, such as Section 106 agreements.

In order to be proactive the council must operate a risk based approach in deciding which cases are to be investigated or monitored. In so doing the resources available must be provided in a targeted and focussed way.

Priority will be given to monitor the following developments:

  • All developments over 10 dwellings;
  • All commercial developments over 1000sq metres floor area;
  • All proposals which have trees which are protected by Tree Preservation Orders;
  • Where there has been a history of non-compliance; or
  • Significant works to Listed Buildings.

Any other developments may be inspected on a random basis at any time to ensure compliance.

Complaints about the service

If you are unhappy about the level of service you have received or how the process has been managed, then you may firstly discuss your concerns with the Development Manager or take it further through the council’s ‘Let us know’ procedure. If you remain unhappy then you may write to the Local Government Ombudsman who may investigate your concerns in certain circumstances. More information is available on their website

Appendix one: enforcement powers

There are a number of enforcement actions that Wyre Forest District Council can take. These are set out in the next table.

Type of Action


No formal action

Guidance from Central Government is that enforcement action should be a last resort and that Councils are expected to give those responsible for a breach of planning control the opportunity to put matters right or to seek to regularise the breach before resorting to serving a formal notice. Any such service of a formal notice must be proportionate and commensurate with the breach of planning control.

Retrospective Planning Application

A retrospective application will be invited where it is considered that there is a reasonable likelihood that planning permission may be granted in line with local and national planning policies or where a development may be made acceptable by way of the imposition of conditions.

Request for Information

Section 16(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables a notice to be served requesting details to be provided of any owners, occupiers or any other persons with an interest in the land

Planning Contravention Notice

Section 171(c) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the service of a notice requiring persons to provide information in relation to land or activities on land where a breach of planning control is suspected

Enforcement Notice

Section 172 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the service of a notice which requires specific steps to be undertaken to remedy the breach of planning control

Planning Enforcement Order

Where a person deliberately conceals unauthorised development, the deception may not come to light until after the time limits for taking enforcement action (section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) have expired. A planning enforcement order enables an authority to act in relation to an apparent breach of planning control notwithstanding that the time limits may have expired.

Stop Notice or Temporary Stop Notice

Section 183 and Section 171(e) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the service of a notice requiring the cessation of unauthorised activities. A Stop Notice may only be served in conjunction with an Enforcement Notice referred to above

Breach of Condition Notice

Section 187(a) enables the service of a notice to secure compliance with conditions imposed on a planning permission


A local planning authority can, where they consider it expedient for any actual or apprehended breach of planning control to be restrained, apply to the High Court or County Court for an injunction to restrain a breach of planning control (section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).

Rights of Entry

Local planning authorities and Justices of the Peace can authorise named officers to enter land specifically for enforcement purposes (sections 196A,196B and section 196C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990). This right is limited to what is regarded as essential, in the particular circumstances, for effective enforcement of planning control.

Listed Building Enforcement

The listed building enforcement provisions are insections 38 to 46 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and the enforcement provisions relating to the demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area (“relevant demolition”) are in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Untidy Land

The service of a Section 215 Notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the service of a notice requiring the proper maintenance of land and buildings.

Discontinuance Notice: Unauthorised advertisements

Section 225A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) allows local planning authorities to remove and dispose of any display structure – such as an advertisement hoarding – which, in their opinion, is used for the display of illegal advertisements. This provision does not apply to a structure in a building to which the public have no right of access and cannot be seen publicly.

Enforcement and protected trees

Anyone who contravenes an Order by damaging or carrying out work on a tree protected by an Order without getting permission from the local planning authority is guilty of an offence and may be fined.

The local planning authority may also impose a condition requiring replacement planting when granting consent under an Order for the removal of trees. The authority can enforce tree replacement by serving a ‘tree replacement notice’.

The council will comply with the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 when interviewing persons suspected of a criminal offence and with the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996 and Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972, when carrying out prosecutions.

The Government’s Planning Policy Guidance recommends that local planning authorities keep a record of their enforcement decisions and actions, including no further action and informal action (Paragraph: 010 Reference ID: 17b-010-20140306, PPG: enforcement and post-permission matters).

Appendix two: What is a breach of planning control?

Breach of planning control

Matters not a breach of planning control

Unauthorised erection of a building or extension to a building

Internal works to a non-listed building

A material change of use of land

Obstruction of a highway or public right of way (PROW). Obstruction of the highway is dealt with by the police. Obstruction of a public right of way such as a public footpath should be reported to the county council.

The display of unauthorised advertisements

Parking of commercial vehicles on the highway or on grass verges. This is a matter for the county council as highways authority.

Unauthorised works to Listed Buildings

Parking caravans on residential driveways or within the curtilage of domestic properties as long as they are incidental to the enjoyment of the property

Unauthorised works to trees subject of a tree preservation order (TPO) or in a conservation area

Running a business from home where the residential use remains the primary use and there is no adverse impact on residential amenity

Unauthorised demolition within conservation areas

Land ownership disputes or trespass issues. These are private matters – you should seek advice from a solicitor or Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

Breaches of conditions attached to planning permissions

Covenants imposed on property Deeds. This is a matter on which to seek advice from a solicitor.

Not building in accordance with the approved plans of planning permissions

Any works that are deemed to be ‘permitted development’ under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended)

Untidy land where it affects the amenity of the area

Advertisements that are excepted from deemed or express consent under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007

Unauthorised engineering operations, such as raising of ground levels or earth bunds

Dangerous structures or other health and safety issues. If these could affect the safety of the public – such as a wall that might fall onto a road or footpath – it should be raised with the council’s building control team

Failure to comply with a Section 106 agreement

High hedge disputes – these are dealt with by the Development Management team but under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003

Deliberate concealment of unauthorised building works or changes of use

Any noise, pest control, traffic or rubbish complaints, these should be directed to Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

Unauthorised encampments



Development: Is defined as the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.

Expedient: In general terms this means where an unauthorised development is causing serious harm, rather than it being a minor or technical breach.

Material Change: A change in kind, for example a change from a house to a shop, is material but a change in degree is material only if the change is substantial and it has resulted in a change of character of the land or building. For example, a family dwelling where the owner/tenant has taken in lodgers does not in itself constitutes a material change so long as the main use of the house remains that of a private residence.



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