Planning enforcement charter
Our service standards for investigating and dealing with suspected planning breaches.
Enforcement enquiries and complaints
- Where possible, we will treat your enquiries and complaints in confidence
- If your enquiry or complaint does not relate to a planning issue, we will tell you and refer you to the relevant service, if appropriate
- We will not normally investigate anonymous enquiries or complaints
Investigating an enquiry or complaint
We will allocate an officer to investigate your enquiry and, if necessary, make a site visit.
If the alleged breach appears to concern public safety issues, work to trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, or criminal damage to a listed building, we will visit the site as a matter of urgency.
The investigating officer will decide if evidence indicates a breach of planning control has taken place. We will then tell you what action we propose to take.
If we decide not to take action
If we decide not to take action because there was no breach, the breach was minor or there is not enough evidence to pursue the matter, we will tell you.
Where there has been a breach of planning control
If we receive an allegation that you are responsible for a breach of planning control, we will tell you that we are now treating the matter as a formal complaint.
We can take several actions. These are at our discretion and will depend on the nature of the breach.
- Negotiate a solution - in many cases breaches of planning control can be solved through negotiation rather than by more formal action.
- Ask you to submit a retrospective planning application
- Take formal action. If action seems justified, we will gather evidence to present in a report to our Development Control Committee. The committee will decide if we should take formal action.
It is not an offence to start building works or make a change of use without planning permission. Just because something does not have planning permission does not always mean that we will take action to stop it.
When we receive an enquiry or complaint:
- We will acknowledge it within five working days. This will include a reference number, details of the investigating officer, when you will next hear from us, and a copy of our leaflet giving a brief guide to the planning enforcement process
- We will tell you what action we intend to take within 15 working days
If we are not going to take any further action, we will explain why not.
If we are proposing to take formal action, our Development Control Committee will usually have to authorise it.
In this case, we will serve a notice on the relevant parties (anyone with a legal interest in the site) setting out what action they need to take to correct the breach.
We will tell you of any decisions with ten working days. At that time, we will also explain the next course of action and likely timescales.
We have a wide variety of powers and the action we take will depend on the nature of the case.
Our priorities are to protect amenities, safeguard the built environment and uphold local planning policy in the speediest and most effective way. The government advises councils to resort to enforcement action only where it is plainly necessary and there is obvious harm or nuisance.
We have published a statement of our Planning enforcement policies and procedures that sets out in more detail our enforcement policies. We will use this when we consider whether or not to take planning enforcement.
When enforcement is necessary, we will make sure we use the notice most appropriate for the type of breach.
We will advise anyone that we serve with a formal notice of his or her rights to challenge the notice, including how to appeal to the Secretary of State.
It can be difficult to predict how long it will take to deal with a complaint for a number of reasons.
We will try to keep you informed of progress of the case you are interested in.
Making a complaint
We hope you will be satisfied with the service we offer. If you have any suggestions, concerns or difficulties, we want to hear from you. We are committed to improving our service and dealing promptly with any shortcomings.
We will consider all complaints about the way we have dealt with an enforcement case. Not agreeing with the decision we have reached is not, in itself grounds for complaint. In this case, you would need to appeal against the enforcement notice.
The quickest way to sort things out is to talk to the officer who dealt with the case. If you are still dissatisfied, you can talk to our Development Control Manager. And if that does not sort the matter, the Head of Planning will investigate your complaint.
If you write to complain, we will acknowledge your complaint within five working days of receiving it.
We will investigate your complaint fully and quickly. We will then write to you to explain the outcome of the investigation and to tell you what we will do about it. If we are not proposing to take any action, we will tell you why not.
If you are not happy with our initial response, you can complete a Comments and complaints form and the Chief Executive will investigate the matter. You can also ask for advice and help from your local councillor. You can find out who your local councillor is using our In my area page, or see our list of councillors in Rushmoor.
If you feel that we have not followed the correct procedures you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate the matter. But the Ombudsman would normally expect you to have followed our formal complaints procedures first.
Reviewing our performance
We publish an annual review of our performance in planning enforcement. We will use your comments to look for ways to improve our service.
If our performance has fallen below established levels and targets, we will identify the reasons. We will also describe what we will do to improve our performance. If necessary, we will revise our targets.