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Case priorities – what happens after we receive an unauthorised development report

See how we prioritise and investigate allegations of unauthorised developments.

After we receive your allegation, we will record and assign it to an officer. We will acknowledge your complaint by email or letter and give you the details of the investigating officer and the case reference number.

The period for investigating and resolving complaints depends on the case. Below is the process and priority level of investigations:

First priority cases

Where works are being carried out which will cause irremediable harm, for example, works to a listed building, demolition of a listed building and works to trees with protection orders.

Second priority cases

Where works or uses are causing a significant and continued harm to amenity, for example, the unauthorised use of a residential property as a business premises, unauthorised conversions of properties to flats, and the unauthorised construction of an extension.

Third priority cases

Where works or uses cause harm to the amenity of an area but do not fall into the categories above, for example, installation of shop fronts, unauthorised detached structure and non-compliance with the approved consent. Visits to be carried out within 10–15 working days.

Fourth priority cases

Where there is a breach of planning control but there is little or no immediate harm to amenity or where the harm can be easily remedied for example, the unauthorised installation of satellite dishes and adverts.

We will initially carry out a site visit to ascertain whether there is a breach. We may give the operator/and or owner a reasonable opportunity to regularise the breach. Where there is significant harm, we will look at serving a Temporary Stop Notice.

In assessing the harm we will take account the impact of the site or
use in terms of visual amenity, noise and disturbance, parking and other
environmental/strategic objectives. Regard will be had to the sensitivity of adjoining uses and the related impact.

The owner may, if appropriate, regularise a Breach of Planning Control. They can:

  • Submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for an Existing Use or Development).
  • Submit a retrospective planning application (for the retention of the development).
  • Remove the unauthorised development from the site.

Should a planning application be submitted and fail to gain permission or if no action is taken to remedy the breach, the local planning authority will consider taking enforcement action, through the service of an enforcement notice.