Planning enforcement FAQs
My neighbour doesn't have planning permission for building work they're carrying out - can you force them to stop building?
We don't have the power to stop building work in most cases. In the case of alleged unauthorised development at a residential property, such as the construction of a garage/conservatory/outbuilding, it's highly unlikely that we'd have the power to stop the development.
In exceptionally rare circumstances there is the power to serve a notice requiring that unauthorised development is stopped, but strict criteria must be met, and these criteria are not met frequently.
My neighbour is building an extension that encroaches slightly onto my property - can you do anything about this?
We can't become involved in matters relating to boundary disputes or allegations of trespass onto your property.
If an extension is constructed on a neighbour’s property but you believe part of it has been built on your land, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.
Similarly, if a neighbour has erected scaffolding on your property to enable them to construct an extension, we don't have any power to take action; this is a civil matter.
Is building an extension/garage/conservatory etc without planning permission a criminal offence?
It's not a criminal offence to carry out development at most properties without obtaining planning permission first. However, if the building is listed, it's a criminal offence to carry out works that extend, alter or demolish etc any part of the building without first obtaining the necessary consent.
It's a criminal offence to fail to comply with the requirements of an enforcement notice within the time given.
My neighbour has constructed a fence that blocks off my right of access to the rear of my property - can you do anything about this?
We can't become involved in, and have no power to take action regarding, matters relating to access rights.
If a neighbour has fenced off part of their garden or a shared private drive over which you believe you have a right of access, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.
Similarly, if your neighbour constructs a fence or wall over a public footpath or a public right of way, we don't have the power to take any action in respect of the encroachment. Our Highways Department may be able to investigate development that appears to encroach onto a public footpath, and the Public Rights of Way Department may be able to look into any alleged obstruction of a public right of way.
Does my neighbour need planning permission to change the windows or add new windows or roof lights in their house?
In many cases, you don't need to apply for planning permission to replace the windows in a residential property, or to add new windows or install roof lights at the property, even if the property falls within a conservation area. If a property is listed however, listed building consent would be required.
My plans were approved by Building Control so I don't need planning permission separately do I?
Building regulations approval is NOT a granting of planning permission. Building regulations and planning permission are entirely separate matters, and are governed by completely different legislation. In many cases planning permission will also be required and would need to be applied for separately.
When will I know the outcome of my enquiry?
Straightforward cases or those where it is not considered expedient to take formal action will be concluded more effectively and we will aim to deal with the majority of simple cases within 8 weeks.
Complex cases will inevitably take time to resolve and some enforcement investigations can be very lengthy particularly where evidence is required over a period of time to demonstrate an unauthorised activity is taking place. In such cases the complainant will be updated periodically by email or letter when a key decision is taken.