Reporting an alleged breach of planning control
We enforce planning control in order to safeguard the quality of the landscape and buildings in the area.
What you can do if you suspect a breach of planning
If you’re concerned that a development is proceeding without the necessary planning consent, or if something is not in accordance with the consent already granted, let us know. Fill in the Report an alleged breach of planning control form, supply the following information and we’ll do the rest.
You should provide:
- clear details of what is causing you concern
- details of the location and address of the land or property
- your name, address and email address so we can contact you about the investigation
- details of the landowner or developer’s name and address, if known
Please note we do not act on anonymous complaints unless we consider that the cause of the complaint could cause serious health and safety problems.
Your details are confidential. This is a requirement of the Local Government Act 1972, which protects informant’s details. However, if the matter proceeds to an appeal, or when prosecution procedures are initiated, the complainant’s evidence may be required.
How we deal with planning control breaches
When assessing possible breaches of planning control, we have to find a balance between the rights of the developer, user, or owner of the land or buildings, and the wider public interest.
What types of complaints we investigate
The enforcement team investigate a range of breaches including:
- Building an extension, or making alterations to a building without planning permission
- An unauthorised change of use of a property (for example, running a business from a residential property)
- Not complying with a condition imposed on a planning permission
- Work being carried out that is different to what was approved
- Advertisements displayed without permission
- Protected trees being removed or lopped without permission
- Unauthorised works to a listed building
- Derelict land and buildings
It is not always necessary to have planning permission, or consent for some extensions, types of uses or advertisements.
What types of complaints we do not investigate
The following are instances where the planning enforcement team is not able to investigate:
- breaches that have not yet occurred and with no evidence on future breaches
- damage to a property not protected under planning caused by building works
- encroachment of land where no unauthorised development takes place
- noise complaints
- activities on the highway
- highway advertisements
- out of hours building works
- boundary or ownership disputes
- Party Wall Act issues
- pollution, fly tipping, noise nuisances
- enforcing covenants
- on street obstructions or parking matters
- health and safety issues
What we look for
Our power to take ‘formal enforcement action’ is discretionary, and only to be used when it is ‘expedient’ to do so. Government advice is that any action taken should be appropriate to the scale and impact of the unauthorised development.
This means that we must make a judgement in each case about the extent of how a development harms:
- amenities of nearby residents
- the special qualities of the landscape and buildings in the area
What we will do
If you raise a concern about planning control breaches, we will:
- treat all complaints as confidential
- acknowledge your complaint
- prioritise your complaint
- let you know when formal action is to be taken
- inform you when and why a case is closed
To deal with any planning control enforcement, we will:
- check the planning register to make sure that planning permission has not been granted for the development and that it is not a permitted development
- establish the facts
- make a site visit and, if necessary, hold discussions with the owner and/or complainant
- we may also serve a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN), which requires the developer to provide further information to the authority
- try to get a full picture of the situation by investigating the planning history of the site, photographs and information from other agencies
- pass on any relevant information to other agencies such as the Highway Authority or Environment Agency who may have an interest in the case
- decide on an appropriate course of action
If we establish there has been no breach of planning we will advise you.
It is not always possible to anticipate how a case will develop and the timescale for resolving a complaint can be difficult to predict. Factors that can delay progress include:
- collection of relevant and satisfactory evidence
- negotiation to resolve a complaint without using formal enforcement powers
- the submission of a retrospective application
- an appeal against a formal notice
The enforcement team holds an online enforcement register of all Enforcement Notices, Stop Notices and Breach of Condition Notices served by North Lincolnshire Council.
It can also be viewed in our office at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe, between the hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm on weekdays, other than bank holidays.
Note: this information is updated within one working day of a notice being served. Access to the actual Enforcement Notice is available within five working days.
Find out what is a breach of planning control [PDF, 30Kb].
To find out more about the council’s powers on taking action over your breaches [PDF, 28Kb].
Find out more about how you can help the council’s planning enforcement team to protect the character of North Lincolnshire by reporting an alleged breach of planning [PDF, 36Kb].
Investigating complaints is often complex and time consuming so we need to prioritise.
We will investigate all complaints and allegations of breaches of planning control according to the seriousness of any harm they may cause to areas or matters subject to planning control.
We will give priority to unauthorised works to listed buildings, protected trees or the unauthorised displays of advertisements. These are all criminal offences and could result in prosecution in the courts.
Note: during investigation of a complaint, the priority may change or additional breaches may be uncovered.
These are the most serious cases and those which cause immediate and potentially irreparable harm to the locality. They may involve immediate issue of formal notices, for example, for the serious and unsympathetic alteration to, or demolition of, a listed building, building works or uses that cause serious harm to local residents due to noise and disturbance at unsociable hours, or increased traffic danger and nuisance.
High priority complaints will be given immediate attention, with a site visit conducted within five working days. Where necessary, staff from other disciplines such as Environmental Health and Building Control will be called upon to attend on site to help assess the extent of any harm.
Stop Notices and Injunctions may be considered and failure to comply could result in prosecution, possible fine and imprisonment of offenders.
These are developments which cause some demonstrable harm to the locality, but immediate remedial action is not considered necessary, for example, large domestic extensions, use of agricultural buildings or dwellings for business purposes, or certain breaches of planning conditions relating to building operations or tree protection on construction sites.
A site visit will be conducted within 14 days and a solution will normally be sought through contact and negotiation with the parties responsible, within 10 working days of the complaint being first received. Retrospective applications will be sought where appropriate but it may be necessary to resort to Temporary Stop, Enforcement, Planning Contravention or Breach of Condition Notices.
Failure to comply with any of these Notices may result in criminal prosecution and possible fines.
These are developments which are either minor planning infringements that cause little or no harm to the locality or nuisance to nearby local residents, for example, the erection of fences or outbuildings within domestic gardens that are marginally above permitted development tolerances or minor variations from approved plans. These will be investigated within 21 working days or as soon as other work permits. Again solutions will be sought wherever possible by inviting a retrospective planning application or appropriate negotiation.
No action required
These are concerns or complaints received which do not fall into the development management sphere.
There are several courses of action available to us where a clear breach of control is established:
- take no further action; for instance, where the breach is minor in nature and does not harm the amenities of adjoining occupiers or the landscape or buildings in the area
- request a retrospective application to regularise the development where the breach could be made acceptable by amendment or the imposition of conditions
- negotiate a solution to mitigate the impact of the development or secure its removal altogether
- formal action to stop and/or remove the development, which involves serving a notice on the relevant parties
The Notice specifies what action is required to correct the breach and by when. A register giving details of all Enforcement Notices served is available for inspection.
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 4.30pm