What happens if someone complains about me?
If you are contacted about an alleged breach of planning control, you are entitled to know what the allegation is, and to have the opportunity to explain your side of the case.
We can’t tell you who has made the complaint, as complainant details are personal information under the Data Protection Act 1998. Also, information of this type is provided to the Borough Council in confidence, so disclosure would be a breach of that confidence. Complainant information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Initially, an Enforcement Team member will visit the site. This may be without any prior warning to the owner or occupier at the site. Officers are authorised to enter land without the owner’s consent. The Borough Council can obtain a warrant of entry where access is refused. Wilful obstruction of a person exercising a right of entry is an offence. For entry to a house or flat, twenty four hours’ notice should been given to the occupier.
If the allegation refers to land or buildings in which you have no interest or involvement, no action will be taken against you. If you are involved, however, Planning Enforcement will advise you of the details of the breach and how it can be rectified. You may be served with a planning contravention notice, which requires information to be submitted to the Borough Council concerning the alleged development. This is used to establish the facts of what has occurred and the details of those with an interest in the land. It is an offence not to complete and return such a notice within the specified timescale.
In the event of a breach being established, your co-operation will be sought to either remove or modify the unauthorised development, or to cease the unauthorised use or activity. A reasonable period of time will be allowed for you to do this.
In some circumstances, you may be invited to submit a planning application in retrospect, to regularise the situation, but we will only suggest this if we feel there is a good chance of permission being granted.
If the situation is not resolved through either of the routes outlined above, formal action may be instigated.