The planning system operates to regulate development and the use of land. It has regard to the development plan, other material planning considerations and the community interest. Planning enforcement is a technically and legally complex element of the planning system, which means that action is not always straight forward. Whilst the investigation of an enquiry is mandatory, enforcement action is a discretionary power of the Local Planning Authority and not all breaches of planning control result in formal enforcement action.
To ensure that the community can have confidence in the planning system there needs to be effective and proper enforcement of planning controls. Fair and effective planning enforcement is therefore important to protect the quality of life for the people who live and work in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the quality of the borough’s built and natural environment. The Council’s focus will be on these cases where the impacts are significant and or irreversible.
The Council takes breaches of planning regulations very seriously and has adopted a Local Planning Enforcement Policy (LPEP) to set out how they will be addressed. To read this policy in full and understand what you can expect from the Planning Enforcement Service please follow the link below.
The LPEP also includes a guide for residents and the local community aimed at providing a greater understanding of Planning Enforcement procedures and the approach of the Council to alleged breaches of planning control.
We aim to review the LPEP annually and would be grateful for your views. If you have any comments please e-mail us at Planning Enforcement.
The Council's Licensing and Enforcement Team also work with staff in the planning team in relation to selling motor vehicles on the street and untidy land.
How do I report a suspected breach of planning regulation?
As above, if you are concerned that someone is in breach of planning legislation because you believe that they do not have planning permission for their development, or it is not following the conditions of an approved application, then the Council, in accordance with the Planning Enforcement Policy, has a duty to investigate.
If you are concerned about a possible breach of planning control then you can report this to the Council:
- by using this online form
- emailing us at Planning Enforcement.
- writing to Development Management, Regeneration and Development Directorate, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle ST5 1BL.
All enforcement complaints made should include the following details:
- The identity and contact details of the complainant
- The address at which the alleged breach of planning control has taken place
- A short description of what is alleged to be the breach of planning control
- Why the complainant feels that the matter involves a breach of planning control
- When the alleged breach commenced
- Details of the type of harm considered to be caused by the alleged breach.
The more information that can be provided then the greater the chance any breach can effectively be resolved.
If enforcement enquiries are submitted without any contact details to enable the Council to seek further information or respond back to the person raising an enforcement enquiry, the Council will not normally pursue these items.
Where available, evidence can be submitted to support any complaint. The following forms of evidence are commonly accepted:
- Video clips
- Activity logs
- Notes of events
- Written statements
Protection of complainants
The name and address of all complainants is kept confidential. We require contact information in order to keep you informed of the process and to contact you to assist use in our investigation. It may be necessary for legal reasons such as Freedom of Information requests that details need to be disclosed, however this information will only be revealed if the information is shown to be in the public interest.
As indicated above the Council do not pursue anonymous complaints. If you feel threatened and therefore unable to provide your details it is recommended to seek support from your Local Councillor who can act on your behalf and protect your anonymity.
What can the Council take action on?
Development can take the form of many things, from the erection of walls and fences, building operations on residential and business properties, to changes of use of land.
Where development is undertaken, and planning permission is required but not approved first, we call this ‘unauthorised’. The list below are the sort of matters that the Council can help with:
- Unauthorised works to a listed building
- Unauthorised demolition within a conservation area
- Unauthorised works to a tree within a conservation area or subject to a preservation order (TPO)
- Unauthorised advertisements
- Breaches of planning conditions
- Development not built in accordance with approved plans.
- Untidy land affecting the amenity of an area
- Unauthorised engineering works, such as alteration to ground levels.
- Unauthorised siting of a caravan or mobile home used as an independent dwelling house.
- Unauthorised material changes of use of land and buildings.
- High Hedges.
What can’t the Council take action on?
We are unable to take action against issues that fall outside of planning legislation, as these are considered civil matters. These are things like;
- Internal works, excluding change of use, to a non-listed building
- Obstruction of a highway
- Parking of vehicles on the highway or grass verges
- Parking of caravans on residential driveways or within the curtilage of a dwelling, where it does not form a separate dwelling
- Operation of a business where the residential use remains the main use of the premises
- Land ownership or boundary disputes
- Covenants contained in property deeds.
- Works which are ‘permitted development’ under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 as amended.
- Excepted Advertisements under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 as amended
- Clearing of land and overgrowth of buses and non-protected trees
- Dangerous structures
- Noise disturbance and general pollution
- Fly tipping
- Business competition
- Blocking of a designated right of way
- Party Wall Act
- Loss of Property Value
- Loss of View
- Health and Safety
- Site security.
How do we investigate your complaint?
As we take breaches of planning legislation seriously, our first step would be to establish if there has actually been a breach. For example, does the development actually need planning permission.
To do this it is likely we will need to visit the property or land to see exactly what works have been carried out, and to discuss this matter with the owner in more detail. We will use a number of different methods to gather information which may include taking photographs, discussing matters with neighbours and any complainants, and looking at any previous complaints or planning history.
Remember, sometimes the development undertaken may not actually need planning permission, and our investigation will establish if this is the case. Whatever the result, we will seek to keep you informed of the progress of the case, whether you are the complainant, or someone being complained about.
To effect the Order in the High Court of Justice dated 22 June 2020 it is a requirement that a copy of the order is displayed on the website. The full text of the Order is available to read here.
Last updated 2 February 2021