A breach of planning control is defined in the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 as:
"the carrying out of a development without the required planning permission, or failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted."
You may encounter a number of problems if you do not obtain the relevant planning permission or consent from the Council.
If you carry out works without permission then the Council may invite you to submit a planning application for the retrospective works. However, if the Council considers the works to be totally unacceptable then it is likely that enforcement action will be taken. Such action may legally require you to modify the works or possibly remove the unauthorised works. The same situation applies if you change the use of land without the necessary planning permission.
Another difficulty arises if you try to sell your property and have carried out works without obtaining the relevant permission. A solicitor will always want to protect the new buyer from being liable for enforcement action (even if they did not carry out the works) and the sale of your property could be seriously delayed, prove costly or even result in the property not being sold at all.
It is an offence to carry out works to or fell a protected tree, to display an advertisement or to carry out works to a Listed Building without first obtaining the necessary consent. It is highly likely that the Council would take you to court and you could have to be pay a fine or, depending on the seriousness of the case, result in imprisonment.
All to often enforcement officers hear people explaining that they did not obtain permission from the Council because their friend, builder or company who sold them the product (i.e. conservatory, windows, pre-fabricated garage...etc.) told them that permission was not needed.
If you are considering any works to your property then the most sensible approach would be to contact the Council's Customer Services Team at least eight weeks in advance of when you are considering carrying out the works.
The Council has recently adopted a Planning Enforcement Procedure which explains how breaches of planning control are dealt with. A Procedures Manual accompanies the Policy and sets out the procedures that will be followed.
The Council also has specific guidance on how it deals with Flyposting and Gypsies and Travellers.
MDC Local Enforcement Plan [550kb]
You may report a suspected breach of planning control by visiting the Council Offices or by contacting the Customer Services Team. We will need from you the precise location of the site or property to which your complaint relates, the exact nature of your concern (for example an indication of any harm caused/being caused) and, if possible, the identity of the person/organisation responsible and when the suspected breach began.
All investigations are carried out on a strictly confidential basis and the source of the complaint will not be revealed. On serious breaches of planning control which warrant prosecution, or result in appeal being lodged, you may be invited to give a witness statement if your evidence is considered crucial.