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Planning Enforcement

Watch the introduction to Planning Enforcement video and click on each heading below to learn more.


Introduction to Planning Enforcement

As the local Planning Authority, we have a duty to ensure developments are carried out in line with the latest planning guidance and regulations, and any planning permission we have granted.  A breach of planning control could be:

  • building work
  • change of use of an existing building or land
  • works to a listed building
  • the display of an advertisement
  • activity in breach of a planning condition
  • works to a protected tree

We are grateful to those who contact us for being our eyes and ears on the ground.

On receipt of a report, we assess the level of planning harm to determine our next steps.  This is so we can prioritise and intervene more quickly on cases that are causing or could cause significant planning harm.

Our approach is to work positively and constructively with anyone responsible for a breach.  It is not to punish everyone that carries out unauthorised work.

Check if planning permission is needed

Some building works and activities can be done without the need for planning permission, under what is called permitted development regulations set by the government

Please speak to your neighbour first as they might have already found out if planning permission is required.

A friendly conversation with your neighbour could result in them making minor alterations.

If you are concerned about tree works, use our interactive map to check if a tree is protected by a conservation area or tree preservation order.

If planning permission is needed, search for a planning application

We may have granted planning permission for the development. You can search for planning applications using our interactive planning map

There is a tour which will guide you through using the map.

If an application is required for works to protected trees, search for a tree works application by:

Search by location and date

Search by reference number

Read our Enforcement Statement

If you still believe there has been a planning breach, our planning enforcement statement sets out how we carry out investigations.

  • For data protection reasons we will not provide updates on ongoing cases, even to those who report suspected breaches
  • We can only consider action against building work or conversion of existing buildings to dwellings that has taken place in the last four years, unless it relates to a listed building
  • We cannot take formal action against the following if they’ve been in place for more than 10 years:
    • Material changes of the use of land
    • Breaches of planning conditions
    • New dwellings built without planning permission

Reporting Form

You can help us look into a possible breach of planning control by providing us with as much information as you can.

Before you complete the reporting form, please make sure you have the following to hand:

  • Photographs showing the activity
  • Location of the activity
  • Why the activity is a breach of planning control
  • How the breach is affecting you and why it is harmful
  • Planning application reference and condition number (if applicable)

We cannot accept anonymous reports. To report a suspected breach and remain anonymous, you can approach your local district councillor or parish council representatives to do this on your behalf.

Click here to complete the online reporting form

If you require assistance completing this form, please call our customer service team on 01235 422600 with the above information to hand and they will complete the form with you over the phone.


What happens next

  1. We will acknowledge receipt of the completed form within two working days
  2. We will review the information provided and if there is a breach of planning control, we will triage the case within 5 days of acknowledgement to assess the level and scale of planning harm
  3. If the breach exceeds our threshold, an officer will carry out a site visit and any further investigation necessary
  4. Cases under the threshold will be assessed without a site visit
  5. It can take many weeks to investigate and resolve a planning enforcement case.
  6. Please see our Enforcement Investigation Process for an indication of timescales.
  7. Upon completion of our investigation, we will inform those who have contacted us of the outcome. We will not routinely contact you or provide updates in the meantime

Enforcement Notices Register

Use our Planning Enforcement Register Advanced Search to find Enforcement Notices, Enforcement Orders, Breach of Condition Notices and Stop Notices (including Temporary Stop Notices) served by the council.