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Guide to Planning Enforcement and how to report a possible breach of planning control.
The Enforcement Team's role is to investigate, identify and resolve breaches of planning control. Where necessary, legal action will be taken to secure compliance with planning legislation.
How do I report a possible breach of control?
You can report a breach of control in any of the following ways:
- By our online Planning Enforcement Investigation Form
- By email to Planning Enforcement
- By phone on 01707 357000, although we would ask you to follow up the phone call with a letter or email
- By visiting the council offices
- By post to:
The Planning Enforcement Team
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Welwyn Garden City
In common with other council regulatory services, the planning enforcement team do not investigate anonymous complaints. It is often only those individuals who report matters to the council who have the evidence necessary to resolve the issues of which they complain and it also reduces the possibility of vexatious complaints being received.
What is a breach of planning control?
Breaches of control can take a number of forms, including:
- Building works or alterations without planning permission
- Unauthorised works to listed buildings;
- Unauthorised material changes of use of land or buildings;
- Breaches of conditions attached to planning permissions;
- Unauthorised work to protected trees or trees in conservation areas;
- The display of advertisements, including hoardings, banners and signs on land without the necessary consents;
- Unsightly or unkempt land or buildings causing a significant loss of amenity
Not all development requires planning permission. Often building works or changes of use will be 'permitted developments', meaning that they do not need the formal approval of the council. The enforcement team will be unable to take any action in these situations.
Other circumstances where the enforcement team will not be able to act include:
- The parking of vehicles on the highway;
- Dangerous structures and buildings;
- Internal refurbishments of buildings which are not listed;
- The operation of a business from home where the main use is still residential and there is no change to the character of the property or the surrounding area;
- Works to or the removal of trees which are not covered by a tree preservation order or located in a conservation area;
- Disputes between neighbours relating to land ownership or the establishing of boundaries;
- Noise, smell or pollution
- Advertisements on highway land or structures (Hertfordshire Highways)
Some of these concerns can be dealt with by other sections of the council. If a complaint is submitted to us in error, we will endeavour to refer it to the correct department.
How will a reported breach be dealt with?
We aim to commence investigations as soon as possible. However due to the high number of investigation requests we receive, each reported breach is assigned a priority rating according to categories detailed in the summary document below.
The matter will be investigated to assess what action, if any, is necessary. When action is required the council will try to resolve the matter by negotiation rather than by immediate legal action. This may involve a retrospective planning application, but where there is no adverse affect on the character of the area, the council will not take action simply to regularise a development.
In cases where a breach has a significant detrimental impact on the character or amenity of an area the council can consider the service of an enforcement notice. Planning enforcement is discretionary and the council will only take action where necessary in the public interest.
What you can expect from us
This is outlined in the summary document of the council's Planning Enforcement Plan.
Planning Enforcement Plan
The council have formally adopted a Planning Enforcement Plan which explains their policy with regard to breaches of planning control.
Estate Management Scheme Enforcement
The Council will also enforce against breaches of the Estate Management Scheme. Further information is provided within the Estate Management Scheme Enforcement page.