A planning breach usually occurs when:
- A development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted, either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for
- A development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions.
A planning breach in itself is not illegal and the council will often permit a retrospective application where planning permission has not been sought.
However, if the breach involves a previously rejected development (or the retrospective application fails) the council can issue an enforcement notice.
In considering any enforcement action, the decisive issue for the local planning authority should be whether the breach of control would unacceptably affect public amenity or the existing use of land and buildings meriting protection in the public interest.
It is illegal to disobey an enforcement notice unless it is successfully appealed against.
Reporting a planning breach
If you believe a development has breached a planning control you can contact your local planning authority.
It is the local authority's responsibility to organise its own administrative process for enforcing alleged breaches of planning control.
When complaints about alleged breaches of planning control are received from parish or community councils, or members of the public, they should always be properly recorded and investigated.
If the local planning authority decides to exercise its discretion not to take formal enforcement action following a complaint, it should be prepared to explain its reasons to any organisation or person who has asked for an alleged breach to be investigated.