How long does enforcement action take?
This page describes the procedure if the council takes formal action following a breach of planning control.
Government advice clearly states that the decision whether to take formal action is within the Council’s sole discretion, but must not be based on irrational factors or taken without proper consideration of the relevant facts and planning issues.
Enforcement action should only be used as the last resort.
Accordingly, the person(s) responsible for the breach will normally be advised of what needs to be done in order to remedy the breach, and what powers are available to the Council should they fail to do so.
Following the initial investigation, if you have made a complaint, the Council will advise you of its initial findings and of the course of action it has suggested to the persons concerned.
This will be done within 5 working days of our deciding on a course of action.
If it is found that there is a breach of planning control then you will be advised of this.
If a retrospective planning application is submitted the Council will write to you advising of the application reference number and where you can inspect the plans, and giving you an opportunity to comment on the application.
If the breach is not resolved by negotiation, or if it is considered that immediate action must be taken over a serious breach, then the Head of Building and Development Services will use his delegated powers to authorise enforcement action.
If it is decided that the breach does not result in serious harm, then you will be advised that it was not considered expedient to take formal action and officers will explain the reasoning why.
This will be done within 5 working days of the decision.
If an enforcement notice or any other form of notice is issued, you will be informed within 5 working days.
Right of appeal
An Enforcement Notice must allow a period of at least four weeks before it comes into effect in order to allow for the statutory right of appeal.
If no appeal is made, then the notice comes into effect and there will then be a period for compliance which can vary from one month for minor works to 6 months for certain changes of use or land restoration.
Only in exceptional circumstances will a period in excess of 6 months be allowed.
There is a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol against an enforcement notice issued by the Council. Such an appeal suspends the requirements of the notice until the appeal is determined.
Appeals against notices can take up to a year to be heard, if a public inquiry is required.
Prosecution proceedings can only take place after the notice has come into effect and there is a continued failure to comply with its requirements.
In rare cases the Council may decide that direct action should be taken to remedy a breach of planning control.
In these cases a detailed report would normally go to the Planning Committee, and time will be needed for appropriate arrangements to be made, such as engaging contractors to demolish buildings or remove materials from the site.
Because it involves entering and removing private property against the owners will this power is subject to legal constraints and is rarely appropriate.
How quickly will a complaint be investigated?
We consider that effective enforcement is vital to ensure that the character and amenity of the borough are protected. All reports of possible breaches of planning are taken seriously and investigated as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Possible breaches in the most sensitive locations will be investigated within 24 hours, e.g. reported unauthorised work to listed buildings and the felling of protected trees or reported breaches with conservation areas or in the green belt.
In other cases we will undertake an initial site investigation, subject to the sensitivity of the location.
Planning Enforcement Charter
Details of our priorities for initial investigation are set out in the Council’s Planning Enforcement Charter which is on the Service Charters page.
Once the site has been inspected we will be able to decide whether or not a breach of planning control has occurred. If one has, our priority for action will depend on an assessment of the harm it is causing.
Last updated : 18/05/2009