What Is Planning enforcement?
Planning enforcement is the process by which we ensure that development without planning permission is investigated, and new development with planning permission takes place in accordance with the approved plans and conditions.
This service investigates complaints, and controls and monitors development on the ground to ensure that it accords with approved plans, and that any agreed changes continue to respect and protect the environment.
Planning enforcement is a discretionary function and the council will act proportionally in responding to alleged breaches of planning control. It is recognised that public confidence in the planning system would be quickly undermined if development were not monitored and unauthorised development were allowed to proceed without any apparent attempt by the local planning authority to intervene.
The council has the primary responsibility for taking whatever enforcement action is necessary in the public interest. We also consider the interests and aspirations of the community when deciding on the most appropriate action to take.
How do I report breaches of planning control?
Notification of alleged breaches of control should be made in the following way:
- Telephone: 0345 678 9004
- In Writing: Development Management Team: Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6ND
- Email - email@example.com
You will be asked to provide the following :
- Your name, address and contact details
- The address / location where the breach is taking place
- What you consider the breach of planning control to be
- How it affects you, and the harm arising from the alleged breach
Please also be prepared to identify yourself, as anonymous complaints will only be investigated at the discretion of the council. If the above information is not provided the council will not register your complaint, and if the matter being reported is considered to be a minor breach of planning control the council may decline to investigate the matter.
What happens next?
Upon registration of the complaint a dedicated case officer will be appointed to the case and will undertake an initial investigation. If we need to contact you further we will. Upon registration our policy is to inform the following interested parties:
- The local member
- The relevant town or parish council
- The complainant(s)
When will formal enforcement action commence?
Formal action will usually commence when a breach of planning control unacceptably harms public interest, or the unauthorised use of land or buildings merits protection in the public interest.
Commencement of enforcement action will:
- Always be commensurate with the breach of planning control to which it relates.
- Will not normally be taken to remedy trivial or technical breaches of control which are considered by the council to cause no significant or detrimental harm.
Formal action will not normally be progressed whilst a planning application is being determined by the council, or where a “live” appeal has been submitted to the planning inspectorate.
If an enforcement case is opened our aim is to resolve it within eight weeks upon registration of a valid complaint. Resolving a case will result in one of the following outcomes:
- No further action
- Inviting a retrospective planning application to be submitted
- Resolution for enforcement notices to be issued
In all cases a report will be produced which explains the reasons for the proposed course of action. Please note that if formal action is necessary, due to the complexities of planning law, it can take several months, and in complex cases years, to satisfactorily resolve problems.
Will details be kept confidential?
The identity of persons reporting suspected breaches of planning control will be treated as confidential unless the complainant authorises otherwise, or the complainant is required to give evidence at a public hearing, inquiry or court case. The right to privacy under the Human Rights Act 1998 enhances and strengthens the council's policy on the protection of complainants.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not override this right to confidentiality, and therefore the identity of complainants will not be revealed to third parties, unless any of the circumstances above apply. Where the success of an appeal or prosecution is dependent on evidence being provided by the person who reported the breach of planning control, the council will discuss with the complainant whether they are willing to relinquish their confidentiality and provide the required evidence before proceeding with formal enforcement action or a prosecution.
What if the complaint is about me?
We recognise that some breaches of the planning rules are genuine mistakes, where people don’t know they need permission. We also recognise that some people deliberately flout the system. As part of any discussion during the investigation the council:
- May allow an opportunity to apply for retrospective planning permission where a favorable recommendation may be received
- Will ask you to put the situation right, e.g. by stopping the use, or by removing or reducing the size of an unauthorised building.
- Will consider taking formal action if you do nothing to put the situation right
How do you ensure development is carried out in accordance with approved plans?
Monitoring is an important function in the council’s role in development management. The council receives in excess of 4000 planning applications a year and therefore will not systematically monitor all developments. We rely upon others to report suspected breaches of planning control to us.
It is the responsibility of the applicant / owner to ensure that the development is carried out in accordance with approved plans and that amendments are sought before they take place. Making changes to approved plans without permission can invalidate a planning permission. Partnerships exist between Development Management and other council functions (Building Control, Licensing, Public Protection etc), which can highlight amendments that have not been approved.
The council will encourage applicants of major developments to enter into unilateral undertakings engaging compliance officers to ensure development during the construction phase accords with all conditions and approved plans.