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Report works without permission

Where work has been carried out without the necessary planning permission, or if the terms of planning permission granted are not being kept, this is a breach of planning control.

The powers that we have to take action are discretionary.

Not all breaches will result in formal action being taken. When we investigate an alleged breach we will make a decision on what action, if any, we will take. Even where there is a breach we may decide to take no action.

Some complaints may relate to matters that we have no control over and that we cannot investigate as they are not planning matters.

What we can't investigate

  • Developments or work that does not need planning approval. Please see information on what is permitted development.
  • Someone breaching across a boundary and encroaching on your garden or land. If this is the basis of your complaint, you should contact your legal adviser.
  • Your neighbour's trees affecting your property. If the tree is on a private property then you should contact your legal advisor. If it is on council property or land, please contact your local housing office. If your enquiry is about a high hedge, please see our information on high hedges.

To check if work has permission, you can use our online search.

Report something you think might need permission or consent

You will need to provide:

  • your name (we do not investigate anonymous complaints)
  • your address
  • details of what you are reporting
  • the address or location of what you are reporting
  • when did the work you are reporting take place
  • who is responsible, if known
  • any other information such as photographs and/or documents to provide more information on the work you wish to report.

Where possible we would encourage you to provide photographs as this may help us reach a decision more quickly. 

What happens next?

The length of time needed to resolve a case or take action can be affected by a number of factors. Progress can depend on the need to gather further evidence, to allow negotiations to take place or for formal procedures to be concluded. Similarly, if we receive an application for the work or an appeal against our decision timescales can be affected.

We recognise that delays can be a source of frustration particularly if you consider your amenity is affected. To ensure you are kept up to date you will get a formal response within six weeks to advise of our decision, or to advise that further investigation is needed before we decide. 

Where we do decide to take action, our aim will be to negotiate and work with the developer to resolve the issue. Only where this approach is unsuccessful will we consider statutory action meaning only a relatively small number of cases will lead to statutory action being taken.

If you report something to us your details will be held confidentially. However, if you request total confidentiality, this may limit our ability to take formal action as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed if the case leads to court proceedings.

A priority system is used for investigating possible breaches in planning control

Priority will be given to significant breaches of planning control including:

  • significant or irreversible harm to the environment
  • irreversible damage to listed buildings
  • unauthorised felling of trees subject to Tree Protection Orders and matters affecting trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders

We are unable to give priority where there is limited public impact, for example the erection of a fence or the construction of a shed, home office or an outhouse.

More information on how we respond to breaches in planning control can be found in our Planning Enforcement Charter.

Page last updated:
21 Oct 2021

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