Our approach to 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

Further information about planning enforcement can found on the GOV.UK website.  

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.

We can seek to:

  • 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

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.

Formal action

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.

Our powers

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 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.

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.

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 Manager.  If that does not resolve 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 as quickly as we can. 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 we 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 councillors page in Rushmoor.

If you feel that we have not followed the correct procedures you can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to investigate the matter. But the Ombudsman would normally expect you to have followed our formal complaints procedures first.


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