Planning enforcement: a brief guide
Why the council enforces planning policies
Kirklees Council has drawn up procedures to enforce the planning policies outlined in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the district. The UDP sets out the council's planning strategy and its policies for guiding and controlling land use and development.
We receive more than 1,000 complaints each year about alleged breaches of planning control and we employ a team of officers to deal exclusively with enforcement issues. This is in line with central government legislation and guidance.
- Planning Policy Guidance 18: Enforcing Planning Control
- Development Control Charter for West Yorkshire
Common planning complaints relate to advertisements, changes of use of land or buildings, and development by householders without planning permission. We investigate each properly made complaint but only a quarter of these result in formal enforcement action - others are resolved before this point and further action is often not appropriate. We keep records of action taken and decisions made in all cases.
We always have to decide whether or not enforcement action should be taken. There is no obligation, nor is it always possible, to take action in every case. Our decision has to take account of the following:
- It is not an offence to carry out development without planning permission but action will be taken if it is decided that the appearance of the area, or people living nearby, have been adversely affected, or protected land, trees and buildings affected in an unacceptable way.
- Enforcement action cannot be taken to protect the private interests or rights of one person against the activities of another. The basic question is not whether owners and occupiers of neighbouring properties would experience ﬁnancial or other loss from a particular development, but whether the proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and the existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. Private rights of access, light or ownership, and other issues are civil matters which would be dealt with through other legislation and ultimately the courts.
- Action will not be taken if objections to the development cannot be made on planning grounds. In other words, if a planning application was to be received for what is done, it would be granted.
- If formal action is taken, this is because it has been decided that this is the best way to solve the problem.
What happens when a complaint is made
If you make a complaint, you will be told of the outcome of our decisions and we will keep a file giving our reasons for these. Your name will not be disclosed to anyone, including the person you are making the complaint about.
Complaints must be made in writing after following steps 1 and 2 below, using our enforcement complaint form.
This is necessary as we need full documentation of the complaint and we will need to contact you again. If you have any difficulties with this, please let us know as we will be able to help you complete the form or send you a paper form to complete. If action is likely to be needed to be taken quickly, as in the case of protected trees or buildings, we act on verbal information though this will need to be confirmed in writing as soon as possible.
How to make a complaint
Check planning applications using our online planning applications search. You can check to see if planning consent has been approved or if a condition has been placed on that planning consent. This will help you to make your complaint more specific.
A lot of complaints are made about development that is generally permitted which means that no enforcement action can be taken. To help improve our service and make more efficient use of our resources, please check to see if it is generally permitted development before lodging a complaint.
- To check it is permitted: Do you need permission? (Planning Portal)
Contact Development Management using the online enforcement form. If you make a verbal complaint, you will be sent a form to fill in and return. The matter will be investigated once we have received the form. You will receive an acknowledgement within five working days and be informed of the name of the officer dealing with your complaint.
We will investigate the complaint and decide whether to take action or not. We may find that planning permission has already been granted, or it may be 'permitted development', or it may be that we have no jurisdiction over it. You will be kept informed of key decisions and actions. If no further action is to be taken you will be informed of the reason within ten working days of our decision.
Action may be taken. If there has been development without planning permission, you will be informed when any application is made. You will also be notified of the outcome once we have resolved the problem.
If a complaint is made against you
An enforcement officer will visit the site to decide whether there has been a breach of planning regulations. If there has, you will be told of what to do to put matters right. You may need to make a planning application to obtain permission for what has to be done.
If you do not act on the enforcement officer's advice and the matter is considered serious, you will be served with an official notice. This will give you a limited time to set matters right. You will have the right to appeal against the notice except in certain circumstances.
If you have not complied with the official notice we have the right to take you to court and you could be fined. In extreme cases, you could be imprisoned.
We will do all we can to avoid taking legal action and will try to negotiate a solution which is acceptable to all. However, if this is not possible or you are unwilling to co-operate, then legal action will be taken to put matters right.
Taking urgent action
If we believe the situation is urgent then immediate action will be taken. This may include dealing with threats to protected trees or buildings, and in cases where public facilities could be seriously affected. We may also take immediate action if we believe that planning regulations were knowingly breached. In such cases we may decide not negotiate at all.
Planning enforcement contacts
The register of planning enforcement notices is open for public inspection, Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm.
- Planning enforcement
- Market Street, PO Box B93, Civic Centre 3, Huddersfield, HD1 2JR
- 01484 414746