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WHAT IS ENFORCEMENT? When someone carries out development that needs planning permission without having received it, the council can take enforcement action to correct this. This will normally happen in the following circumstances: · If someone builds something new or extends a property. · The use of a building is changed. · Where development has been given planning permission, but it has not been built to the agreed plans or has not met the conditions attached to the planning permission. If enforcement action is taken, the procedures can be quite lengthy and sometimes bureaucratic, but it will be effective if there are good planning objections to the development and there has been a breach of planning law. The Council should have a consistent policy on enforcement and set clear standards.

When it serves an enforcement notice, the council must clearly show:

  • What the alleged breach of planning is.
  • What needs to be done to correct this?
  • The period of time that will be allowed to put the matter right (also known as compliance).

It is important that these matters are clearly set out as the developer may win at appeal, if this is not done.


If an unpermitted use has been in place for a period of time, it can be considered immune from enforcement action. This will happen if:

  • A building is used as a residence for a continuous period of four years.
  • Other uses; for example, a business or shop have been trading for 10 years.


What is Planning Permission and do I Need it?

How do I Make a Planning Application?