Planning enforcement - What we can and can't do
The enforcement team investigate alleged breaches of planning control including:
- unauthorised changes of use or building development
- non-compliance with plans or conditions
- unlawful advertisements
- unauthorised encampments
We receive about 800 allegations each year, by phone, email and in writing.
A proportion of these are considered, after investigation, not to be matters we can deal with.
What we can't do
There are many types of uses and developments and building operations which are permitted without planning permission.
It is important that before you report an alleged breach of planning controls to us that you check that it is not in fact a 'permitted development'.
The GOV.UK website regularly updates its guidance and detailed information on when permission is required.
You can also look up the Planning Portal for an interactive house and other useful tools to assess whether what is being carried out is permitted or whether it requires permission.
Boundary or party wall disputes
A typical example would be a shared boundary where a new extension overhangs or encroaches onto neighbouring land.
The planning service does not police private development to this extent and cannot become involved in covenant or deed disputes.
We recommend that you take further advice, perhaps in the first instance from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Obstruction of the highway
Typically this problem would relate to a shared driveway or private access.
Obstruction of a public highway is a breach of The Road Traffic Act (1988), this is a matter which must be dealt with by the police.
The impact of development upon a neighbours light is always considered when determining planning applications, and there are guidelines and rules that are used to judge the impact of proposals upon neighbouring properties.
The 'Right-to-Light' legislation dates back to 1832, and there are many misconceptions around this ancient area of English law.
Above all it must be noted that planning law is separate from Right-to-Light law, therefore, legal advice should be sought, before contacting us.