Reporting an alleged breach of planning control
To inform us of a breach of planning control please:
- use our online reporting facility or
- contact us by e-mail, telephone, letter or in person using the details to the top right of this page.
What information to supply
The nature of the alleged breach of planning control; the exact location of the alleged breach; the date/s on which the breach occurred; the name, address and contact number (if known) of the person responsible for the alleged breach; vehicle registration details, any markings on vehicles, i.e. company name/logo; your name, address and telephone number.
For further information on the details required to report a breach please select the 'Guidance for Residents on Gathering Evidence to assist Local Planning Authority Investigations'.
Making an anonymous complaint
Anonymous complaints will not be investigated. Should you wish to remain anonymous and still make a complaint, then please contact a Ward Councillor and request action/contact through that Councillor. They will report back to you with the outcome of the investigation.
The complaint process
Your complaint will be logged and your details kept anonymous. The complaint will then be prioritised in accordance with the Planning Enforcement Policy* and assigned to a case officer to investigate. Confirmation of receipt of your complaint will be sent within five working days along with a copy of the policy document. The case officer will investigate the alleged breach of planning control in accordance with timescales set out in the policy leaflet. After an initial investigation the Council will aim to advise you of the outcome within five working days. If possible you will be advised of any formal notices being issued within five working days of the issue of the notice. The Council will aim to advise you within ten working days of the resolution of an enforcement issue.
Boundary disputes involving fences
The planning department does not deal with boundary disputes. It is a civil matter and you would need to take legal advice upon this. The planning department will only become involved if there is a breach of the planning regulations i.e. the fence/wall is more than 1 metre high adjoining a highway or more then 2 metres high in any other instance. The Land Registry may be able to offer assistance.
Running a business from home
You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The main test is whether the overall character of the residential property will change as a result of the business. If the answer is "yes" to any of the following questions, then permission will probably be needed:
- Will the home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
- Will the business result in an increase in traffic or people calling?
- Will the business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
- Will the business disturb neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?
Whatever business is carried out from the home, whether it involves using part of it as a bed-sit or for "bed and breakfast" accommodation, using a room as your personal office, providing a childminding service, using rooms for hairdressing, dressmaking or music teaching, or using buildings in the garden for repairing cars or storing goods connected with a business - the key test is: is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises?
Having dormer windows built on the side of a roof
Permission is required if works exceed the height of the highest part of the existing roof; or if it extends beyond the plane of any existing roof slope which fronts any highway; or it would increase the cubic content of the dwelling house by more than 40 cubic metres for a terrace house or 50 cubic metres to any other kind of house.
It depends if the trees are covered by a tree preservation order or in a conservation area. If they are not covered then they are entitled to do this. If a complaint is received, an officer will check the department records to see if it is covered by an order or in a conservation area, or if approval has been given for the works taking place. It maybe that the trees concerned are dead, dying or dangerous and may need to be felled or cut back to make them safe. The owner or tree surgeon should have notified the tree section in this department of any urgent works required.
In some cases of breaches of planning control, it may be necessary and possible to prosecute in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Breaches of tree preservation orders and unauthorised alterations to listed buildings are a criminal offence and may result in court action being taken and/or a maximum fine of £20000 being imposed. Non-compliance with any notices served relating to enforcement matters are likely to be pursued in the Courts by the Council. When considering the suitability of a case for prosecution the following has to be applied:
- Whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction
- The evidence can be used and and is reliable
If the above can be satisfied then it has to be determined if it is in the public's interest whether to prosecute an alleged offender or whether an alternative course of action maybe more suitable. The Council will take into assessment the action, which the suspect person is willing to take to remedy the breach of planning control. It is unlikely to be in the public's interest to pursue a prosecution when it is likely that in the circumstance the Court would be unlikely to impose and sanction other than an absolute and conditional discharge.