The enforcement officer will investigate breaches of planning control by reference to or in accordance with the Planning Enforcement Policy to reach a satisfactory conclusion as resources permit.
If you wish to complain about a planning issue which affects you please contact Alan Watts on 01205 314347.
For full details of the council's planning enforcement function please view the council's Planning Enforcement Policy (see bottom of page)
What we can investigate
- Unauthorised building developments
- Breaches of planning conditions
- Unauthorised changes of use
- Unauthorised works to Listed Buildings
- Display of unauthorised adverts/signage
- Untidy land belonging to private owners.
The carrying out of works without the necessary permission is not a criminal offence (except in certain, limited circumstances) and thus the response from the council to a legitimate complaint has to be measured and reasonable. The recipients of formal notices in most cases enjoy a right of appeal and the Council must always be able to demonstrate that it has acted reasonably and in accordance with the development plan.
The council recognises the importance of establishing effective controls over unauthorised development or use of land to assist in the preservation and enhancement of the qualities of the built and natural environment of the area and to protect public amenities. It therefore will not condone wilful breaches of planning control. It will exercise its discretion to take enforcement action if it is considered expedient to do so. While all legitimate complaints will be investigated, some trivial or technical breaches of control that cause no harm to public amenity may not justify action.
The enforcement officer will investigate breaches of planning control using whichever methods are appropriate to reach a satisfactory conclusion as resources permit. This will usually include a visit to the site of the alleged breach and, if appropriate, meetings with the aggrieved parties. Where appropriate the Enforcement Officer will involve other agencies in any investigation, either other council officers or outside authorities, depending on the type of breach.
Many complaints can be resolved in a relatively short period of time and the majority of these can be dealt with without formal action. For instance there may be no breach and therefore no action needed; regularisation is achieved through a successful planning application or the breach is dealt with by the owner rectifying the matter after discussion. However, any negotiations which are carried out should not be allowed to hamper or delay formal enforcement action that may be required to make any development or use more acceptable on planning grounds or conversely compel it to stop.
All complaints are to be treated as confidential. However, the nature of the complaint may make it obvious to the subject of the complaint who the complainant is, and the complainant will be advised of this but assured that his/her details will not be revealed or confirmed directly by the Council to the subject. However, such details may be required to be disclosed if the case ever proceeds to prosecution. The receipt of all validly made complaints are entered and maintained within the enforcement system.
Anonymous complaints will not be recorded or allocated unless there is an unambiguous breach of planning control which meets the criteria of an Immediate Action priority as set out in the Council's Planning Enforcement Policy (see link below).
The timescale for completing an investigation will vary depending on the caseload of the Enforcement Officer, the complexity of the case and the requirements to regularise the breach.
You can use the 'application search' link on the right to make an enforcement complaint.
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