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Planning Enforcement Process

Formal enforcement action should only be taken as a last resort when other attempts to resolve the issue have failed or when it is considered that the breach causes immediate and significant harm.

If you need to contact us our details are at the bottom of the page.


Most breaches of the planning rules are brought to our attention by neighbours or as we monitor development under way. There is a procedure established for investigating such complaints.

  1. Allegations that development has been carried out without planning permission will be recorded individually. We will acknowledge any complaint made in writing within 7 working days of receiving it and the complainant will be given the name of the planner dealing with the matter.

  2. Investigation will begin as soon as possible although priority will be given to those alleged breaches which need to be dealt with quickly before the works become too advanced or when significant harm to amenity is being caused. This particularly relates to works to listed buildings and structures.

  3. If the investigation shows that no breach of planning control has taken place the complainant will be informed of this within 7 days of the investigation file being closed.

  4. Where the initial investigation finds insufficient information to determine the nature of the work of activity, we may issue a Planning Contravention Notice. This notice requires the recipient to provide information on precisely what is taking place and an explanation as to why no planning permission has been obtained. This information will then be used to form an opinion as to whether or not a breach of planning control has occurred and what the appropriate course of action would be.

  5. Where it is clear that a breach of planning control has taken place we may invite a planning application. This has the advantage of allowing us to get full details of the work that has taken place and consult neighbours before making a decision. It is also in line with Government advice. It may also be possible to make amendments or impose conditions which overcome the concerns of neighbours. Whether a application is invited or not, it is the right of any individual or company to submit a planning application at any time for formal consideration. Once an application has been submitted it will be treated on merit like any other application.

  6. If an application is not submitted, we will decide whether or not an Enforcement Notice should be served. If, for instance, the unauthorised development is considered not to cause significant harm or is not in the public interest, then enforcement action is not appropriate. The consideration of when and how to take formal enforcement action can only be taken when all reasonable efforts have been made to resolve the matter through negotiation and the person reasonable for the breach has been given adequate time to resolve it.

  7. If enforcement action is considered to be appropriate, authority may need to be gained from the Development Control Committee and will be done as soon as possible. In some instances a report may also be sent to the Development Control Committee seeking endorsement to close the case, as it is not considered expedient to pursue, usually for the reasons mentioned above.

  8. Details of all formal enforcement action taken are reported quarterly to the Development Control Committee for information.

  9. The complainant will be kept informed of significant progress on the case throughout it’s lifespan. The name and address of any complainant will be kept confidential to the council, although if you make representations on any subsequent planning application or appeal these will be available for the public to read.


  1. Enforcement Notices are documents served by the council which require the use of the land to stop and/or any buildings or structures that do not have planning permission to be removed. The council must find out the names of all the owners and occupiers of the property and make sure they are served with a notice. The notice itself has to be precise as to what action is required by the recipient and when this must be done by. There are rights of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on most notices. Any notice can be challenged if they are inaccurate.

  2. When conditions imposed on a planning permission are have either not been complied with or are being disregarded, the council can serve a Breach of Condition Notice on the owner or person responsible for the breach. If this is not complied with, legal action may be taken. There are no rights of appeal to the Secretary of State against a Breach of Condition Notice. Where appropriate the council will use this procedure in preference to the service of Enforcement Notices.

  3. We give high priority to the preparation and service of the appropriate notices. We aim to serve them within 3 months of their authorisation where appropriate. If the breach is resolved prior to the service of a notice, that notice will not be served.

  4. Within 14 days of any authority to take action being given, we will advise the owner and/or occupier of the land affected in writing of the council's decision and invite them to remedy the breach before the notices are served.

  5. The complainant will be informed when the enforcement notices are served, what action they require and when the period for compliance runs out.

  6. The complainant and neighbours will be advised of any appeal that is lodged against an enforcement notice and the grounds upon which the appeal has been made. They will then be able to make further comments to the planning inspector dealing with the case, although at this stage the names and addresses cannot be kept confidential.

  7. Arrangements to inspect the premises will be made by the officer dealing with the case no later than 21 days after the compliance period runs out in order to find out whether the requirements of the enforcement notice have been satisfied.

  8. If the requirements of the notice are not complied with after this time the council will consider the instigation of legal action as soon as possible. The decision to pursue legal action will be based on the facts of each case, whether or not it is still in the public interest and the evidence available to secure a conviction, in accordance with the Environment Enforcement Policy (see Appendix 4). The complainant will be kept informed of the outcome of any prosecution. In exception circumstances the council may consider carrying out works itself to remedy the breach. 


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Contact Details

  • Name Planning Help Desk
  • Address Planning Enforcement, Planning and Economic Development, Directorate of Place, 4 Ednam Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HL
  • Telephone 01384 814136