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Planning enforcement

What is a Breach of Planning Control?

A breach of planning control happens when someone carries out building works or an activity which should have had planning permission.  It can also happen when development does not comply with approved plans or conditions attached to an existing planning permission.

Other types of breaches are illegal advertisements/signs, unauthorised works to listed buildings, and unauthorised works to trees in conservation areas or covered by a Tree Preservation Order.

Further information can be found in our Planning Enforcement Policy.

Taking action against a breach of planning control

The Council cannot take enforcement action just because there has been a breach of planning control - it must also be able to demonstrate (on appeal or in court if necessary) that the breach results in an unacceptable level of harm to public amenity.

If the breach is a technical or minor one no further action will be taken.  We will write to warn the person responsible there is a breach of planning control and that it should be put right as soon as reasonably possible to avoid enforcement action.  The person might make a planning application to try and resolve the problem, but if the application is refused planning permission, or one is not submitted, and the breach continues, the Council can issue an Enforcement Notice requiring remedial works to be carried out, or activities to stop.

An appeal can be made against an Enforcement Notice to the Planning Inspectorate. This stops the whole process until the outcome of the appeal is known.  The Council can take enforcement action without waiting in serious cases.

Once an Enforcement Notice becomes effective it is a criminal offence not to comply with it, the Council can then prosecute the persons responsible, and in some cases enter the land and carry out remedial works itself.

To make the best use of the Council's resources alleged breaches of planning control are given a priority of High, Medium or Low. An initial site visit and assessment is made as follows:

  • HIGH the same or next day
  • MEDIUM within 14 days 
  • LOW within 21 days

Most investigations are finally concluded fairly quickly - within three to four weeks - but some cases can take considerably longer depending on the resources needed to investigate, whether any appeal is made, or whether any time period has been negotiated with the Council (to allow for re-location for example). We will always write and let you know what is happening and you can contact the case officer at any time.

How to make a complaint

If you want to make a complaint about a breach of planning control it must be in writing, using one of the options below. Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.

We will write to advise that your complaint has been registered and the name and contact number of the case officer investigating. We need as much information as possible about the works or activities, in some cases you may be asked to keep a written diary of events. A determination will then be made as to whether a breach of planning control has been made and acknowledge accordingly.

To make a complaint fill in the online form or download the form and send by email to planning.bcw@northnorthants.gov.uk where a member of staff will record your complaint and pass to a Planning Officer.  Or you can send the form by post to:

Planning Enforcement
Borough Council of Wellingborough
Swanspool House
Doddington Road

On receipt one of our Planning Officers will investigate any breach of planning control.

For further enquiries you can contact us on 01933 231906.

Planning enforcement register

View the Enforcement register and notices served, by notice date, address or reference number. There have been substantially fewer planning enforcement notices served since 1996, as this council prefers to use expediency.


Last Updated: 15‎/‎04‎/‎2021‎