Skip Navigation

If planning control has been breached

If the Council decides to take formal action against a planning breach, it has a range of powers to stop works and resolve the issue.


Planning Enforcement issues can often be resolved without resorting to formal enforcement action or prosecution. Find out how complaints are investigated.

However, if negotiations fail, the Council has the power to issue an:

Planning Contravention Notice (PCN)

This is used to gather information about a suspected unauthorised development, which will help decide if further action is needed. This could include the use(s) of the land or buildings, when the use(s) began, when the development began, when it was completed, as well as who has a legal interest in the land. Failure to complete and return a PCN, or to return it with false or misleading information is a criminal offence.

Breach of Condition Notice (BCN)

If planning conditions are not met (that were set when planning permission was granted) then a BCN can identify the breach, what must be done to put it right and set timescales. Failure to comply may lead to prosecution.

Enforcement Notice

An enforcement notice is a legal document that can be served on people who have built something without the required permissions or against planning rules. It could:

  • stop or prevent an activity (this could also happen through a stop notice)
  • request the removal of an unauthorised building or extension
  • ask for a development to be changed to make it more acceptable

Similarly, a Listed Building Enforcement notice can be issued when works to Listed Buildings take place without consent, or against consent.

Search our enforcement notices.

An enforcement notice is registerable as a Land Charge, and would be revealed in future searches on that land. This could affect any future sale of the property.

It is possible to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate before the date it becomes effective.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with the requirements of an enforcement notice, and the Council may consider commencing Court Proceedings in such cases. If a person does not or cannot comply with the requirements of an enforcement notice, the Council, Bailiffs or Contractors can enter the land and undertake the necessary work. The cost is the recovered by direct payment from any person having an interest in the land, or by a legal charge of the property. If direct action is taken, the Council can sell any items it removes from the land after 3 days to recoup its costs.

Section 215 Notice

This can be served on the property owner or occupier when its condition is judged to be detrimental, and causing harm to the visual amenity of the area. It explains what steps must be taken to resolve the problem, and when by. Failure to comply may lead to prosecution. It is possible to appeal against a Section 2015 Notice to the Magistrates' Court.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

Owners of trees protected by a TPO must have permission from the Council to lop, top or fell it. Felling or damaging a protected tree without the Council's consent is a criminal offence that may lead to prosecution, and possibly an order to replace the tree(s) with some of the same species or size. This can result in fines and huge replacement costs to the owner.

Prosecution and injunctions

Failure to comply with the orders and notices above may lead to prosecution, with serious cases being referred to the crown court. In exceptional cases, injunctions will be sought if the Council considers it necessary to stop an actual or expected breach of planning control. Failure to comply with an injunction can lead to an unlimited fine or imprisonment.