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The Council will only take such action where it is proportionate and appropriate to do so in the public interest, for example when permission would have been refused.

The Enforcement Plan

The Enforcement Plan below sets out how the Council will investigate and tackle reported breaches of planning control in a consistent, fair and proportionate way.

Enforcement Notices

Enforcement Notices in this District from 2008 onwards are published on our website. Those quashed or allowed at appeal have been removed.

What is a breach of planning control?

A breach of planning control is:

  • carrying out development without the required planning permission, or 
  • failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.

What we can investigate

The Enforcement team investigates breaches of planning control that are brought to its attention, including from its own officers, members of the public, councillors etc. We can only investigate when a breach has taken place (rather than before it has happened).

Breaches that will be investigated are:

  • Breaches of conditions or approved plans
  • Breaches of permitted development
  • Unauthorised use of land or buildings, including traveller encampments (see below)
  • Unauthorised works to a protected tree in a conservation area or covered by a Tree Preservation Order
  • Unauthorised works to a listed building or display of an advert
  • Untidy land. 

Matters investigated by others

Before making a complaint

Things to check before making a complaint about a possible planning breach:
For advice as to whether a breach has taken place please refer to our FAQs.

Making a complaint

Please be aware that we do not accept anonymous complaints unless in they relate to criminal activity in connection with Listed Buildings, Tree Preservation Orders or trees in conservation areas. You can contact your local ward councillor should you wish to raise an enforcement issue anonymously.

To process your complaints we will require your name, address, telephone and email address if you have one, as this will help us to keep you informed about progress. For information on how we will process this information, please read our Privacy Notice.

To make a complaint please email planningenforcement@stalbans.gov.uk, telephone us on 01727 866100 or click here to submit an online complaint. You must supply contact details to ensure your complaint is registered.

To report unauthorised traveller incursions during evenings, weekends and bank holidays you can call our out-of-hours number 01727 811155.

What happens after I make a complaint?

Unauthorised works to protected trees or listed buildings will be prioritised. When demand for investigations is high, alleged breaches with low impact and advertisements will take longer.

When we have all the information needed, we will let you know who will be investigating. 

The site will be visited and information collected (within 2 weeks). 

If a breach is identified the person responsible will be informed. We advise them what action is required to remedy the breach (usually within 1 month of the visit).

It can take several weeks whilst we investigate, contact the landowner, negotiate, decide whether the development requires planning permission and whether permission might be granted. Some breaches need us to monitor the situation over a number of months requiring several visits.

Sometimes, we ask for the complaint to be regularised by submitting a planning application. We give a month for this to be sent to us.  Once received, new applications can be seen on our website within 2 weeks. These planning applications are then processed and considered in the same way as an application where not work has not started.

We update the complainant when a major change in the investigation occurs. Usually, this is the submission of a planning application, we decide not to take action or serve a notice (usually 4-6 months from first complaint).

Many investigations take 6 months to reach a conclusion with some taking longer. 

Unauthorised encampments

An unauthorised encampment is where any person camps (in vans, trailers or any other moveable accommodation) on land that they do not own, and/or where they do not have permission to reside.

View our page on unauthorised encampments for more information. 

Date of last review: 09 July 2019