What is a Breach of Planning Control?

In the United Kingdom, planning laws are used to control development of our urban and rural environments. These laws regulate the use of land and buildings in the public interest. In most cases, when someone wants to develop a piece of land or a building - including changing its use - they will need to apply to their local planning authority for permission to do so. A breach of planning control occurs when someone develops a site without the planning permission they need or they fail to comply with the conditions of a planning permission. Development without planning permission is known as unauthorised development.

As the local planning authority, we have the power to take enforcement action against anyone who is in breach of planning control. However, enforcement is a complicated area. Enforcement officers must consider government advice, previous decisions of the courts and the Human Rights Act when deciding what action to recommend and take.

There are several main areas in which someone might be considered to be in breach of planning control.

  • They are developing a site without the planning permission needed.
  • The have permission but they are not meeting the terms of that permission (they are not following the plans or meeting the conditions or legal agreement placed on the permission).
  • They are carrying out external or internal works to a Listed building without Listed building consent (permission).
  • They are displaying a sign or an advert without advertisement consent (permission).
  • They are felling or carrying out works to a tree that is in a conservation area or it is protected by a tree preservation order (TPO).
  • They are demolishing a building in a conservation area without consent.

It is important to note that most breaches of planning control are not criminal offences. However, the exceptions to this is any unauthorised works to a Listed Building or any protected tree, or the display of an advertisement without consent.

In line with government advice, we always try to settle matters by negotiation and agreement and without the need for formal action. However, we will recommend decisive enforcement action to stop unauthorised development where this is appropriate.