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Craven District Council

Planning enforcement - how it works

A short guide to the planning enforcement process, including types of notices and other enforcement powers and actions available to the Council.

Unauthorised Development

Planning Legislation is used to control ‘development’ within the District. Where someone wants to undertake building work, or to change the use of a building or land, this is likely to be considered as an act of ‘development’. Not all development requires planning permission and more detailed advice on the need for planning permission can be obtained from the Council’s website or on the Planning Portal web site at 

‘Unauthorised Development’ occurs when development is undertaken without the necessary planning permission, or not in accordance with the conditions of a planning permission. The Council is able to investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development and to take enforcement action where appropriate.

When should action be taken? 

It is important to be aware that the failure to apply for planning permission is not a reason to take formal enforcement action. Central Government Guidance recommends that formal enforcement action should only be taken if unauthorised development is unacceptable on planning grounds. A decision has to be taken on each case as to whether it is ‘expedient’ to take action. Key considerations are the planning harm that is being caused by the unauthorised development and whether action is in the public interest.

What action can be taken?

Before taking formal enforcement action Central Government Guidance generally encourages Council’s to seek to resolve breaches of planning control through negotiation and persuasion. Should this be unsuccessful, or should the breach of planning control be very serious, there are a variety of formal tools that are available to deal with a breach of planning control. 

Formal enforcement action often involves ‘serving notice’ on a developer who is in breach of planning legislation. Most breaches of Planning Control are not a criminal offence. An offence only occurs once a notice has been served and the recipient fails to comply with its requirements.