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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 and contact details
  • details of what you are reporting
  • details of how it affects you
  • the address or location of what you are reporting

If possible, please provide:

  • details of when the work you are reporting took place
  • who is responsible, if known
  • photographs and/or documents you may have to provide us with more details about the matter you wish to report

We may be able to respond to you more quickly where photographs are provided.  

Where we haven’t been given enough information to investigate a complaint, we will get back to you.

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

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.

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

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

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.

For free impartial planning advice you can visit the Planning Aid Scotland website. Planning Aid Scotland is an independent charity which offers free, impartial and confidential planning advice, provided by staff and volunteers all of whom are chartered planners.

Page last updated:
21 Dec 2023

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