Planning enforcement

The Council has a statutory duty to investigate planning enforcement complaints, but has sole discretion as to whether to instigate formal enforcement action in each case.

This can be:

  • an unauthorised built development, for example, new buildings, extensions and alterations to existing buildings
  • unauthorised land uses (unacceptable uses in the Green Belt, businesses running from homes)
  • building works not in accordance with approved plans
  • breaches of planning conditions
  • illegal works to protected trees and listed buildings
  • illegal advertisements
  • illegal gypsy/traveller incursions
  • neglected land and property that is an eyesore

Planning legislation operates on two levels, a permissive system and a consent system. A large amount of building work can be undertaken without the need for planning permission, this is referred to as “permitted development”.

A breach of planning control is where planning permission has not been obtained in advance of the development taking place or the development has exceeded the limitations so that it can no longer be deemed to be permitted.

This is not criminal in itself and formal enforcement action is discretionary and based on the principle of expediency. Action will normally only be taken where a breach is considered unacceptable and harmful to public amenity or is in the wider public interest.

The display of an advertisement, works to protected tress and works to listed buildings fall within the consent system, where failure to obtain the necessary consent, prior to their display or work being undertaken is a criminal offence. This can often carry high fines and, in some cases, can lead to a prison sentence.

Burnley’s enforcement plan

The Council’s Policy on Enforcement is available here.

Reporting a breach

Any report made to the Development Control team is dealt with on a confidential basis.

All reports of breaches of planning control are taken seriously and we will try to keep you informed of how matters progress, although we are unable to give regular updates, and this means we may not contact you until the end of the investigation.

We no longer accept enforcement complaints via email. You can tell us of a breach of planning control by completing the form.

See the action we have taken

Go to Public Access and select ‘Enforcements’ on the search options.