The enforcement of planning law is particularly complex. It needs to strike a balance between the rights of individuals to use or alter their property in the way they wish, the need to safeguard the character and quality of neighbourhoods, and to uphold the planning policies for the local area in such a way as to protect the public interest.
The Council has regard to the guidance set out by Welsh Government in their annex to the Development Management Manual provides additional technical guidance on planning enforcement controls in Wales.
Following Receipt of a Complaint
If necessary a site visit is undertaken to assess whether there is a breach of planning control. Some complaints can be about works that do not require planning consent or can no longer be enforced against due to the length of time which has passed since the breach occurred.
Planning enforcement is time limited, if there is a breach of planning control a landowner may be requested to submit a certificate of lawfulness or a planning application to regularise the matter.
If a breach is found
Where a breach of planning control is found and it is within the time limits for enforcement we will request the landowner take the necessary steps to remedy the breach. These may include:
- Requesting they apply for retrospective planning consent to regularise the breach
- Requesting they comply with or submit the necessary information to discharge the condition
- Requesting that the activity on site cease
- Requesting that the site be tidied
In all cases, we have to assess what harm is being caused as a result of any breach and how the situation could be remedied without formal legal action. Although we can, and do, take formal legal action against unauthorised development, we are advised to do so only as a last resort. The vast majority of cases are resolved through negotiation. We are sometimes also informed of matters that ultimately may not be in the broader public interest to investigate further i.e. not expedient.
When it is expedient to take further action
In cases where breach of planning control is deemed to be wholly unacceptable or would only be acceptable with conditions we may deem it expedient to take formal enforcement action.
The issuing of an Enforcement Notice, Stop Notice or Section 215 (untidy site) Notice occurs when a report to the Delegated Panel, outlining why we deem it
expedient to take formal action, is approved. Enforcement Notices can also be issued where an application for the breach of planning control has been refused
There are other formal notices which can be issued without Delegated Panel approval, these are:
- Breach of Conditions Notice
- Enforcement Warning Notice
- Temporary Stop Notice
- Planning Contravention Notice
Where it is necessary to take enforcement action the owner, occupier or developer will be advised in writing on the course of action to be pursued, setting out the type of action to be taken. The advice will include what rights of appeal are applicable and the penalties for non- compliance.
What if the Notice is not complied with?
Failure to comply with any requirement of a statutory notice is a criminal offence. We will always consider whether legal proceedings should be instigated in these circumstances. The circumstances that warrant prosecution will normally be characterised by one of the following:
- a flagrant breach of the law which has destroyed the fabric of a historic building or involved the removal of a protected tree.
- a flagrant breach of law which is continuing to affect public amenity or the environment. An example of this is where advertisements are displayed without advertisement consent, particularly if these are attached to listed buildings or in conservation areas.
- failure to comply with formally issued notices and the offender has been given a reasonable opportunity to comply with its requirements.