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What is a breach of planning control?

A breach of planning control is defined in Section 171A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as:

  • the carrying out of development without the required planning permission; or
  • failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.

Any contravention of the limitations on, or conditions belonging to, permitted development rights, under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended), constitutes a breach of planning control against which enforcement action may be taken.

Who can take enforcement action?
Local planning authorities have responsibility for taking whatever enforcement action may be necessary, in the public interest, in their areas. It should be noted that local authorities have a range of enforcement powers that extend beyond planning, as do the police in certain instances.  For example, enforcement action could also be taken by the LPA under environmental health or licensing legislation.

When should enforcement action be taken?
There is a range of ways of tackling alleged breaches of planning control, and LPAs should act in a proportionate way. They have discretion to take enforcement action, when they regard it as expedient to do so having regard to the development plan and any other material considerations. In considering any enforcement action, the LPA should have regard to the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular Paragraph 58. This suggests that planning authorities should publish a local enforcement plan to provide a framework for investigating and enforcing breaches of planning control.

More information about enforcement is available on the government’s Planning Practice Guidance website: Ensuring effective enforcement.

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