Enforcement powers

Listed below is a brief description of the various enforcement powers available to the Authority. This is not intended to set out in full all the detailed legal considerations, but simply to try to explain the general nature of the available enforcement powers. In all cases, the Authority will seek to use the most effective power available to remedy a breach of planning control.

Planning Contravention Notice

This Notice enables the Authority to require detailed information about suspected breaches of planning control. A Planning Contravention Notice may require the person on whom it is served to give information such as:

a) details of all operations being carried out on the land which might be suspected as being a breach of planning control

b) matters relating to the conditions or limitations subject to which any planning permission has been granted

c) names and addresses of any person known to use the land for any purpose

d) the nature of any legal interest in the land and the names and addressees of any other person known to have an interest.

The service of a Planning Contravention Notice does not stop us taking other formal action against a breach of planning control. The recipient of a Planning Contravention Notice has 21 days to respond to it, but if there is no response a legal offence has been committed which can be subject to prosecution by the Authority in a Court of Law.

The penalty for non-compliance with a Planning Contravention Notice can result in a fine of up to £1,000. Similarly, if any person makes a false or misleading statement he/she shall be guilty of an offence on conviction (maximum penalty £5,000).

Enforcement Notice

This is the principal form of Notice used to deal with unauthorised development. As in all other forms of action it is subject to the Authority and our legal advisors being satisfied that a breach of planning control has occurred.

Above all, we must be satisfied that it is expedient to serve an Enforcement Notice having regard to the development plan and to any other material planning considerations.

Such a Notice must specify the time at which it takes effect, what steps must be undertaken to remedy the breach and a time period in which those steps must be undertaken.

An appeal against an Enforcement Notice must be made before the date on which the Notice takes effect (normally within 28 days of service). If an appeal is made, the requirements of the Notice are suspended until the appeal has been decided.

Non compliance with the requirements of an Enforcement Notice is a criminal offence against which the Authority can instigate prosecution proceedings. The maximum fine in both the Magistrates and Crown Court is now unlimited upon conviction. We can also enter the site and carry out the works required by the Notice in default and then seek to recover our costs from the owner/occupier.

Listed Building Enforcement Notice

This is similar to an Enforcement Notice. The Notice may:

(a) require the building to be brought back to its former state

(b) if that is not reasonably practicable or desirable, require other works specified in the Notice to alleviate the effects of the unauthorised works

(c) require the building to be brought into the state it would have been in if the terms of any listed building consent had been observed. The Notice must specify time constraints for securing compliance with the requirements of the Notice.

There is a right of appeal against a Listed Building Enforcement Notice. The procedures are similar to those for an appeal against an Enforcement Notice.

If works subject to a Listed Building Enforcement Notice are later authorised by a retrospective application for Listed Building consent, the Listed Building Enforcement Notice will cease to have any effect although the liability to prosecution for an offence committed before the date of any retrospective consent remains.

Breach of Condition Notice

If any conditions imposed on a grant of planning permission or listed building consent have not been complied with, we can serve a Breach of Condition Notice to require the recipient to secure compliance with the condition/s.

The Breach of Condition Notice will specify the steps which we consider should be taken or the activities which we consider ought to cease, in order to secure compliance with the condition/s specified in the Notice.

There is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice although our decision to issue a Breach of Condition Notice can be challenged in the Court.

If the requirements of the Notice have not been met within the prescribed period, the person responsible is in breach of the Notice and shall be guilty of an offence on conviction (maximum penalty £1000) should we decide to prosecute the matter.


Where we consider it necessary or expedient for any actual or apprehended breach of planning or listed building control to be restrained, we can apply to the Court for an injunction. Such action would normally only be sought if the breach was particularly serious or protracted and was causing, or was likely to cause, exceptional harm to the local environment. Failure to comply with an injunction may result in imprisonment.

Temporary Stop Notice

Where we consider that an alleged unauthorised activity is likely to cause irreparable harm, then we can issue a Temporary Stop Notice requiring that activity to cease immediately. The Temporary Stop Notice will be valid for 28 days following the date of issue during which time we may serve a formal Stop Notice (see below) and Enforcement Notice. Failure to comply with a Temporary Stop Notice is a criminal offence for which an individual may be prosecuted.

Stop Notice

We can serve a Stop Notice at the same time as an Enforcement Notice where we consider it expedient to take urgent action, in order to bring a particularly offensive activity to stop sooner than an Enforcement Notice.

The exercise of the power to serve a Stop Notice is discretionary, and the fact that it is expedient to issue an Enforcement Notice, will not automatically mean that it will be expedient to serve a Stop Notice. If a Stop Notice is served it will have effect either immediately or within a few days and even if an appeal is made against the accompanying Enforcement Notice, the Stop Notice must be complied with or if not we can prosecute the offender.

As a breach of listed building control is in itself a criminal offence, there is no need or provision for serving a Stop Notice in respect of a breach of listed building control.

Untidy Site Notices

We can serve a Section 215 Notice on the owner/occupier of any land or building which is considered to be in an untidy condition to the extent that it is having an adverse affect on the amenity of a neighbourhood. The Notice requires the person/s on whom the Notice is served to tidy up the site and if not legal proceedings can be taken by us.


Some advertisements may not be displayed without our prior approval. In such cases, we can prosecute people responsible for displaying an illegal advertisement or serve a Discontinuance Notice (in cases where an advertisement does not need express consent but where it causes offence to amenity or traffic safety).

  1. Enforcement
  2. What is a breach of planning control?
  3. Enforcement procedures
  4. How to report a breach of planning control
  5. What do we do next?
  6. How do we take formal action?
  7. What happens after Enforcement Notices are served?
  8. Government guidance
  9. Enforcement powers (you are here)
  10. Why can enforcement action take so long?
  11. Complaints about the enforcement service
  12. How we will use your information


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