Planning enforcement

What action can we take?

Depending upon the circumstances formal action may sometimes be necessary.

  • Where it is necessary to take enforcement action the owner, occupier or developer will be advised in writing on the course of action to be pursued, setting out the type of action to be taken. The advice will include what rights of appeal are applicable and the penalties for non-compliance.
  • Where it is necessary to serve formal enforcement notices, the content of the notice will clearly state what is required and why action is being taken. Information will also be given on how to make an appeal against the issuing of the notice.

Enforcement notices

If an enforcement notice is served this will set out what the breach of planning control is, the reasons for taking enforcement action, the steps required to remedy the breach of planning control and the compliance period.

The notice must be served on every person with an interest in the land and therefore it can take some time to prepare the notice.

Once served, there is a period of 4-6 weeks before it takes effect and during this time anyone who has been served with a copy of the notice has the right of appeal to the Secretary of State.

Anyone who has been served with a copy of an enforcement notice has the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. The appeal process can take between 4 to 12 months, depending on the type of appeal lodged. 

If no appeal is submitted or an appeal is dismissed, the requirements of the notice must be complied with during the compliance set out in the notice, or as varied by the Inspector hearing the appeal. For more information, visit the Planning Inspectorate website.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with any requirement in an enforcement notice and in the event of non-compliance we can take legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court who can impose a fine of up to £20,000 on summary conviction. More serious cases can be heard in the Crown Court.

Breach of condition notices

A breach of condition notice can be served where a development has planning permission, but a condition imposed as part of the planning permission has not been complied with.

The notice sets out which conditions have not been complied with, states what action is required and gives a period for compliance.

It takes effect immediately from when it is served and it is a criminal offence not comply with any requirement. The only right of appeal is to the High Court.

In the event of non-compliance we can take legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court who can impose a fine of up to £1,000 on summary conviction.

Stop notices

In addition where there is a serious breach of control that could lead to serious harm, we can serve a stop notice alongside an enforcement notice. This means an activity or works must cease as soon as the notice is served and cannot continue whilst an appeal is being heard.

As there is a right for recipients of such a notice to claim compensation this type of notice is only used where there is evidence that severe harm will be caused if a use or works continue.

County court injunctions

Where there is a threat that a serious breach of planning control could occur, for example in relation to a listed building or the removal of protected trees, we can consider issuing an injunction, which is a private action taken by us, after demonstrating to the county court that someone is intending to carry out works which could have serious consequences.