How to report people who might not have planning permission and what to do if you have been served an 'enforcement notice' for building without permission.
Common types of cases reported as potential unauthorised development in the East Riding include:
The enforcement process and unauthorised development guidance page provides further information on this area and details who you can contact to report unauthorised development.
Before reporting a potentially unauthorised development, you should check on Public Access to see if there is already Planning information available regarding the development. It may be that permission has already been sought.
View planning applications on Public Access
If you think somebody is building without planning permission, you can report potential unauthorised building developments below:
Report potential unauthorised building developments
Read on for further information of what will happen to your complaint.
Please note: all complaints are treated confidentially.
We will acknowledge your complaint within two working days and let you know the name of the officer who will be dealing with your complaint (unless you have already contacted that officer direct and he has already confirmed this information to you).
We investigate all complaints and first of all check to see if there has been a breach of planning control. We do this by looking at our records and relevant planning applications. If it is clear that no planning rules have been broken we will contact you explaining why no further action will be taken. However, many complaints need further detailed investigation before deciding if there has, or has not been, a breach.
The council will always investigate when a breach occurs and will normally give the owner or person carrying out the works the opportunity to rectify the matter informally.
This can be either by:
In some cases the breach is so minor or of so little consequence, that no further action will be taken.
The council will always try and resolve breaches of planning control without recourse to formal powers, however, where such negotiations fail it will always consider whether it is necessary to take enforcement action and what type of action it is reasonable to take.
The council follows a set procedure when investigating a complaint based on the following:
In most enforcement investigations, negotiation is the main activity and formal enforcement notices should normally be issued only where all other avenues to rectify the situation have been exhausted.
There are two important points to be considered:
Where a breach of planning control is established, it is the practice of the council to seek to negotiate and attempt to persuade the owner or developer voluntarily to remedy the breach of control. The council's practice is in the first instance to send at least one warning letter asking for either:
If there is a breach of planning control then the person responsible will be asked to take corrective action to resolve the breach.
This could be by:
Most people do take the positive steps required to rectify the situation and formal enforcement activity is only necessary in a small number of cases.
The council investigates all complaints received but with the following receiving the highest priority.
The following matters receive a lower priority:
In considering enforcement action, the council will assess if the development conforms with current local plan policies and national planning policies. It also considers whether the breach of planning control causes an unacceptable effect to public amenity or harm to land or buildings. When a complaint is received, the first action is to inspect the site and verify information. It is then necessary to consider:
The council will need to make sure that the wording on the notice is precise and exact and that the notice is served on the right people. This often involves taking legal advice beforehand.
Any notice that is served will require certain steps to be taken within a specified period of time.
Where a breach is causing serious harm, the council can issue a Stop Notice or obtain an injunction, although this is only appropriate in exceptional cases. Immediate prosecution can also take place where the breach involves a criminal offence such as unauthorised demolition of a listed building, unauthorised demolition in a conservation area or the unauthorised felling of a protected tree or a tree in a conservation area.
There are time limits for taking enforcement action. Built development (such as a house extension, new outbuildings) becomes lawful four years after substantial completion, whilst the time limit for most unauthorised uses (such as change of use from a home to a shop) and breach of conditions is ten years.
The recipient(s) of the notice has a right of appeal and the notice can be challenged if it is inaccurate. Find out how to appeal through the link below:
Planning Portal - Enforcement appeals (external website)
This is a formal notice used to bring about the cessation of an activity on land or secure removal of unauthorised development. It requires specific steps to be taken within a specified time limit to remedy the breach. There is a right of appeal on specified grounds to an Enforcement Notice, which will be heard by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. If an Enforcement Notice is not appealed against, or is upheld at appeal then the council has the power to bring prosecution proceedings if the notice is not complied with within the specified time limits.
A notice can be served by the local planning authority requiring land to be tidied, pursuant to Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
The recipient has a right of appeal to the Magistrates’ Court against issue of the notice.
Failure to comply with the notice within the required time scales constitutes an offence, and may result in prosecution.
If the council feels it necessary, having served an Enforcement Notice, to ensure that a use or activity stops as soon as possible, then it can serve a Stop Notice. Such action will only be taken where significant adverse effects are being caused or the activity would result in long term damage to the environment by a development and immediate action is necessary.
This form of notice is used where the breach involves non-compliance with a condition on a planning approval. For example, the failure to provide a landscaping scheme as required by a condition. There is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice, so this can be a very effective form of action. However, a right of appeal exists against the condition(s) specified in the planning approval notice of decision, which is effective for 6 months from the planning decision being issued.
This form of notice gives the council power to obtain information about suspected breaches of planning control, and to endeavour to secure the co-operation of the alleged offender. The notice may require the person on whom it is served to give information as to:
Local planning authorities have various powers to deal with situations where development has taken place without the requisite permission having been obtained. Planning enforcement is an important part of the planning process. Whilst it is discretionary, it is crucial in maintaining confidence in the planning system.
If anyone wishes to carry out development other than permitted development (which is development exempted from requiring specific planning consent), they should obtain planning permission, and any other relevant consents, from the council first. Whilst it is not always a criminal offence to carry out development without planning permission, it may still constitute a contravention of planning laws and the council has the power to enforce these laws.
If anyone is unsure if planning permission is needed, the government’s Planning Portal web site gives advice for many common householder and business developments in an easy to operate interactive format. To access the Planning Portal use the link below:
Planning Portal (external website)
Alternatively the council offers a service to inform whether or not permission is required for the development proposed.
The council is guided by government policy in the National Planning Policy Framework, which has replaced “Planning Policy Guidance – Enforcing Planning Control (PPG 18)”. This framework guidance is supplemented by the Government Circular “Enforcing Planning Control - good practice guide and legislative provisions and procedural requirements” that remains in force and is a relevant consideration. The National Planning Policy Framework advises each council to consider publishing a Local Enforcement Plan (LEP) to manage enforcement proactively, in a way that is appropriate to their area. This LEP should set out how to monitor the implementation of permissions, investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development and take action where it is appropriate to do so. The information contained on this page is deemed to constitute the council's LEP.
In considering any possible planning enforcement action, the decisive issue for the council, as local planning authority, is whether the breach of control would unacceptably affect public amenity, meriting action in the public interest.
Any enforcement action should always be commensurate with the breach of planning control to which it relates. For example, it is usually inappropriate to take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach of control which causes no harm to amenity in the locality. Also where the council's initial attempt to persuade the wrongdoer to voluntarily remedy the harmful effects of unauthorised development fails, negotiations should not hamper or delay whatever enforcement action may be required to make the development acceptable.
The council, however, receives between 1500 and 2000 enforcement enquiries every year. Over half of these enquiries are dealt with quickly as usually there is no breach of planning control, or we find a minor technical breach and no formal action is necessary. These are dealt with on an informal basis.
The Local Ombudsman has held in a number of cases that there is “maladministration” if the authority fails to take effective enforcement action which was plainly necessary and has occasionally recommended a compensatory payment to a complainant for any injustice. In each case an authority must have a properly documented record of their investigation together with documented reasons why the council decided to take, or not take, enforcement action. Provided such a record is maintained, the Local Government Ombudsman is normally content that no maladministration has occurred.
The current enforcement team consists of 6 planning enforcement officers. They are area based and work is distributed according to workload and specialist skills. There are also two site monitoring officers. The site monitoring officers deal with the council’s proactive checks on building sites, ensuring that conditions imposed on planning approvals are complied with. The site monitoring officers are targeted at development as directed by the head of service, as necessary, to take into consideration development trends and workloads. The enforcement and site monitoring officers report to a principal enforcement officer, who reports directly to the head of service.
To achieve an efficient enforcement service which maintains acceptable levels of performance, standard operating procedures are used for both investigating complaints and monitoring development works or planning conditions. Pro-active enforcement is important to prevent the enforcement function being a solely reactive response.
The enforcement function relies on other officers, councillors, parish/town councils and the public to be the enforcement team’s eyes and ears. To provide a more intensive service without input from others over the 933 square miles of the East Riding of Yorkshire would require a substantial increase in staff resources devoted to this activity.
When enforcement complaints are being investigated the enforcement team will seek to keep both the complainant and the contravener informed as the investigation proceeds. This is considered important to both parties, who may claim to be victimised or dealt with too harshly. If formal action is required any notices served will be communicated to interested parties and relevant agencies including parish/town councils and appropriate ward councillors.
There are many developments within the East Riding of Yorkshire providing self-catering holiday accommodation, such as caravans, cabins, chalets, building conversions where that development would not have been approved but for a restriction on the accommodation being for holiday purposes only.
The Government encourages such tourism developments, but they also accept it is important that planning conditions ensure that approved holiday accommodation is not used as a person’s sole or main place of residence. If it was, then residential development could occur in places that are contrary to long-established planning policies to protect the countryside, deliver sustainability objectives and resist undue pressures on local services.
Further information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the holiday accommodation guidance.