Last edited 29 Jan 2015

Planning enforcement officer

Planning permission is the legal process followed to decide whether proposed developments should be allowed to go ahead. Responsibility for planning lies with local planning authorities. Other than permitted developments, all developments require planning permission.

Planning enforcement is the process of investigating and resolving possible breaches of planning law. This might include:

Local planning authorities have discretionary power to investigate and enforce these breaches. Planning enforcement is usually carried out by an enforcement officer, whose role may include:

  • Providing guidance about planning applications, breaches of planning law, retrospective planning applications and enforcement action.
  • Investigating complaints to determine whether planning permission for works that have begun or are completed is required.
  • Making site visits. Enforcement officers have a legal right of entry to investigate alleged breaches of planning law. If entry is refused, a warrant may be obtained.
  • Assessing developments that are in breach of planning law to determine the harm done and the possible remedies.
  • Entering into negotiations with the parties.
  • Taking enforcement action.
  • Checking compliance with enforcement action.
  • Instigating prosecutions for non-compliance with enforcement action.

Possible enforcement actions include:

  • No formal action.
  • Retrospective planning application.
  • Planning contravention notice (to require information or seek suggestions for how to remedy the breach).
  • Enforcement notice (giving notice of what the breach is and setting out the steps the local authority require to remedy the breach).
  • Planning enforcement order (when a person has deliberately concealed unauthorised development, a planning enforcement order enables action to be taken notwithstanding the fact that the time limits may have expired).
  • Stop notice (prohibiting activities in a related enforcement notice).
  • Temporary stop notice (requiring that an activity which is a breach of planning law should stop immediately).
  • Breach of condition notice.
  • Injunction.

For more information see: Planning enforcement.

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