This page provides you with details of how to report potential breaches of planning control. It also sets out how we investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development, our priorities, how we make decisions and the tools available. You can also view our enforcement plan.
How do I report a potential breach of planning control?
If you wish to report a breach of planning control or something that you think is contrary to planning regulations, please contact us (NB we cannot accept anonymous reports):
- 01969 652346
What is a breach of planning control?
- Breaches of planning control can relate to a wide range of different unauthorised activities, including new buildings and structures and changes of use of land or buildings. Other unauthorised works attract criminal liability including, to listed buildings, protected trees, and the display of advertisements.
- Breaches of planning control become lawful (can no longer be enforced against) after a period of time has elapsed without action being taken against them. Generally, this is 4 years in relation to operational development, and 10 years in the case of material changes of use to land. There is however, no time limit in relation to unauthorised works to listed buildings. In cases where there has been a deliberate concealment of a breach of planning control, the time period in which action could be taken may not commence until the breach has been positively identified by the Authority.
- Even if it is technically possible to take enforcement action, a planning authority must first decide whether it is expedient to do so. This is a test of proportionality as to whether the unauthorised development is causing planning harm. In considering harm, the planning authority must consider the provisions of its Local Plan and any other material planning considerations.
- It is important to note that planning enforcement powers are discretionary. It does not automatically follow that action will be taken against a breach. Enforcement powers must be exercised fairly and in the public interest.
How will the Authority investigate complaints?
If you have made a complaint you can expect:
- Your details to remain confidential
- To receive a written acknowledgment within 5 working days of the date of receipt
- To be notified at key stages of the investigation
- To be informed of the outcome of the investigation
If it appears you have carried out unauthorised development you can expect:
- Officers to formally identify themselves when they visit your property
- The complaint to be investigated thoroughly before making any decision on what action to take
- An explanation of what you need to do to put matters right, how long you have to do this, and what the consequences might be if this does not happen
- To be informed if the Authority decides to issue an Enforcement Notice or start legal action
What are the Authority’s planning enforcement priorities?
All complaints are prioritised according to the level of harm that the alleged breach of control appears to be causing. The Authority aims to investigate and resolve the most harmful cases within the shortest possible timescale however some cases can take a protracted period to resolve. The following categories will be used as a guide to prioritise cases:
Priority A – A breach which may cause immediate and irreparable harm. For example:
- unauthorised works to a listed building;
- unauthorised works to a protected tree.
Priority B – A breach which would cause significant harm. For example:
- alterations which cause significant harm to the character or appearance of a conservation area;
- building work which would affect the privacy or amenity enjoyed by residents.
Priority C – A breach where there is risk of harm. For example:
- siting of caravans;
- the tipping of waste/untidy land.
Priority D – A breach where there is limited harm. For example:
- where planning permission is likely to be granted following the receipt of a retrospective application;
- neighbour disputes which have limited public impact.
What is the Authority’s approach to decisions?
- We aim to address enforcement investigations positively. This means that if it appears reasonably possible that the unauthorised development can either be regularised through the grant of planning permission, or its impact lessened to an acceptable level, then Officers will work positively towards that goal. However, if that is not reasonably possible we will work towards ensuring that the unauthorised development is stopped, or removed as soon as possible.
- Following an investigation of the facts of the case the Authority will make a reasoned decision whether it is expedient to take action. In making this decision the case will be primarily be assessed in terms of the level of harm that is being caused, or could potentially be caused, to the natural or built environment, and to public amenity. The following criteria will be considered:
– The impact on the ‘special qualities’ of the Yorkshire Dales National Park;
– Whether the unauthorised development conflicts with the policies of the local plan;
– Government advice and guidance;
– Whether there are any public safety implications;
– Whether it is in the public interest to pursue enforcement action; and
– Whether it is fair and reasonable to take action.
- In considering ‘’expediency’’ the decisive issue is whether the breach would unacceptably affect public amenity or use of land that should be protected in the public interest.