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Planning enforcement action

Government guidance states that formal planning enforcement action should be a last resort when informal negotiation fails. There are however, a range of formal actions available to us.

Planning enforcement action is not automatic. Government guidance states that local planning authorities have a general discretion to take enforcement action, when they regard it as expedient. Enforcement action should always be proportionate with the breach of planning control to which it relates (for example, it is usually inappropriate to take formal enforcement action against a minor or technical breach of control which causes no harm to amenity in the locality).

In most circumstances if you are found to be in breach of planning control we will attempt to remedy the situation by contacting you informally on site, in writing or by telephone. If after initial attempts the issue has not been resolved, we will consider whether it is ‘expedient’ to pursue the matter formally (notice, prosecution or direct action).

The consideration of expediency includes questions such as; ‘Is the development minor or commonplace?’; ‘Would planning permission likely be granted for what has taken place?’; ‘What is the harm being caused by the development?’; ‘Is the matter in the public interest to pursue?’

Any notice served will set out the measures needed to remedy the breach and the date by which these must be completed. You may be required to stop work, cease a use, comply with a condition, make alterations or demolish all or part of the building.

Available action/notices

The following are a list of actions we may take. Please note that these descriptions are designed to give a brief overview and they do not identify all criteria and considerations necessary for each notice.

Planning enforcement notice

Is the mainstream action that can be taken to remedy a breach of planning control. A notice may require a wide range of steps to be taken to make a development comply with the terms of a planning permission or to remove or alleviate any injury to amenity caused by the development.

Stop notice

Can only be issued with a planning enforcement notice but can be used to direct that an activity (included in the planning enforcement notice) being carried out on land must stop.

Listed building enforcement notice

Action that can be taken to remedy harm caused to a listed building. A notice may require a wide range of steps to be taken to restore the building, alleviate the effect of the unauthorised works or bring the works to a state where they would have been granted consent if applied for.

Breach of condition notice

Requires a condition to be complied with.

Section ‘215’ wasteland notice

Can be used to remedy the condition of land where that land is considered to adversely affect the amenity of an area.

Temporary stop notice

Can be used when there has been a breach of planning control and it is necessary in order to safeguard the amenity of the area that the activity that amounts to the breach should stop immediately. The notice only lasts for 28 days.

Planning contravention notice

Can be issued to require information about activities taking place on land.

Prosecution proceedings

Can be pursued against non-compliance with a Notice with possible fines up to £20,000. Prosecution proceedings can be considered and pursued without the issue of a notice for works to listed buildings or the display of advertisements.


If it appears necessary or expedient for any actual or apprehended breach to be restrained, a local planning authority may apply to the county court or high court for an injunction to restrain it. Injunctive relief is not common, but could be achieved where the court can be persuaded that only an injunction will restrain the breach.

Direct action

We have the power to enter land and carry out works that are required by an enforcement notice; a listed building enforcement notice and a section 215 notice; subject to consideration of costs and resource.

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