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Planning enforcement

Enforcement is a key element in the planning process. It is important that development takes place in accordance with the relevant plans, conditions and legislation. We will investigate alleged breaches of planning control and, where proven, will resolve the situation where it is expedient to do so. 

However, we recognise that many breaches of planning control are unintentional and that in the majority of cases persons responsible, once informed, will rectify the situation. In light of this, the preferred way in which the enforcement function is undertaken is to negotiate a solution rather than immediately start formal enforcement proceedings. As a consequence, much of the Council's work is engaged in this way.

The Government says that councils must only use enforcement powers where the unauthorised development is causing significant harm. The Council can decide not to take action if it considers the breach to be trivial or simply not merited. There is more information on the Government's approach to planning enforcement available on the Planning Practice Guidance website.

The Council will treat all enquiries in a fair and reasonable manner for both sides, balancing the desire on the part of the complainant to see an early solution, with the time needed by the person responsible to remedy the breach. In doing so the Council will balance the opportunities for negotiation and delay against the seriousness of any breach. Where we believe the effect of the breach is severe, delay will not be acceptable.

Where the Council has decided to take formal action in relation to a breach of planning control, the information can be viewed on the Planning Public Access system. 

We will aim to provide clear information and advice to all parties involved and provide regular updates on the progress of the investigation or enforcement process, including future actions and reasons for terminating an enquiry.

Members of the public can report possible breaches of planning control to the Council’s Planning Enforcement Team by emailing planningenforcement@sthelens.gov.uk. Your details will be kept confidential; we do not investigate anonymous complaints.