Planning enforcement

Planning investigation and compliance

Planning Enforcement Covid-19 Update 26 March 2020

In light of the current Covid-19 situation, all our officers are now remote working from home, therefore we are running at reduced capacity at this time.

You can contact our enforcement team by email at [email protected]. In urgent cases, you can also call our main number on 0300 330 7000, selecting option 6. Please be advised that due to a reduced number of officers available to answer incoming calls there may be a longer than normal wait times. We are still accepting enforcement complaints, however our ability to investigate some issues will be delayed due to the national restrictions currently in place.

Planning Enforcement

The Planning Enforcement Team aim to take swift action to deal with any alleged breach of planning control reported to us by members of the public, councillors or other council departments. We also monitor conditions attached to planning permissions and check that small and large developments are being built in accordance with their planning approval.

We draw on government guidance to ensure our investigation and compliance function work complies with the latest legislation.

In adopting these policies and procedures:

  • We recognise the importance of maintaining effective controls over unauthorised development, to assist in the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environment, and to protect public amenity.
  • We undertake that reasonable resources will be committed to ensure the effective implementation and maintenance of planning enforcement controls, and these will be kept under review.
  • Where it is judged to be necessary, expedient and proportionate to do so, all available powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), will be used to control unauthorised development.
  • In considering whether or not it is necessary to take enforcement action in any particular case, due regard will be given to any relevant planning policies and guidance, resources and the severity of the breach of planning control and any other material considerations.

What we deal with

Sometimes development is carried out without planning permission or is not carried out exactly in accordance with the detailed plans or conditions we have approved

A key objective of the Planning Enforcement Service is that harmful activities are dealt with effectively where it is expedient to do so.

Matters which can be considered for planning enforcement include:

  • Unauthorised material change of use to land or buildings
  • Unauthorised works to protected trees
  • Unauthorised advertisements
  • Unauthorised work to listed buildings
  • Unauthorised demolition of certain buildings within a conservation area
  • Land which adversely affects the amenity of the area

These matters are dealt with on a priority basis:

Priority one

  • A serious threat to health and/or safety (e.g. traffic hazard, storage of hazardous substances, development creating pollution problems)
  • Permanent damage to the environment (e.g. loss of protected tree, unauthorised work affecting the character of a listed building and some works within a Conservation Area)

Priority two

  • Building work which is unlikely to be given planning permission without substantial modification (e.g. excessively large house extension)

Priority three

  • A breach causing problems, which may be resolved by limited modification (e.g. insertion of opaque glass in an unauthorised window to overcome privacy problems, restrictions on hours of use, etc.)

Priority four

  • Breaches of a minor nature raising minimal planning concerns

What information will the council need?

The more information you can give us the better. Officers will visit the site but will only be present for a relatively short space of time; therefore, your observations may be crucial.

All initial reports are dealt with in confidence and your details will not be made known without your agreement.

We will not act upon anonymous reports unless there is a serious risk to health and safety or serious demonstrable harm.

We will need to know

  • The address of the property
  • How the problem affects you
  • When the problem started

We would like to know

  • The name of the people or company responsible
  • A diary or log of activity
  • Any other relevant information

What the Enforcement Service cannot deal with

Planning Enforcement is restricted to matters relating to the Town and Country Planning Act and associated legislation.

For this reason it is not possible for our team to deal with matters relating to:

  • Neighbour disputes
  • Land ownership and boundary disputes
  • Restrictive covenants placed on your property when it was built

In these cases you are advised to take independent legal advice.

Parking or other activities taking place on the public highway are a matter for Northamptonshire County Council.

What happens after you report something to us

We will usually acknowledge reports within 10 working days of receipt and we will inform you of the case officer dealing with the matter.

Those cases of highest priority will be dealt with first.

An initial investigation will normally be carried out within 10 working days. If a breach has occurred, the person responsible may be asked to put it right or make a planning application. If this approach fails, we can then consider whether it is expedient to take more formal action.

We take breaches of planning regulations very seriously and are committed to bringing unauthorised development under control where it is considered necessary, expedient and proportionate to do so.

Business uses of dwellings

The use of you home in connection with your trade or business may not always be a matter for planning enforcement. We will need to assess the harm to neighbours in each case from matters such as traffic, noise and disturbance.

If you make a complaint to us you can expect it to be acknowledged and you will be kept informed of the progress of the case.

If we issue a formal notice it will be entered on a register pursuant to Section 188 of the Town and Country Planning Act, (as amended), and this register is available for public scrutiny during normal office hours at the council offices.

Report a breach of Planning Control

Report breach of Planning Control

email: [email protected]

write to:

Planning Enforcement
The Guildhall
St Giles Square
Northampton NN1 1DE

Telephone: 0300 330 7000 and select the option for Planning & Building Control