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Ribble Valley Borough Council

Planning Enforcement

Breaches of planning control

Breaches of planning control can take many different forms. Different time limits and consequences apply in respect of them.

This page aims to provide an overview of the type of things which are/are not usually breaches of planning control.  It also provides basic information on time limits and on which breaches will, in themselves, amount to criminal offences.

Examples of breaches

Breaches of planning control can include:

  • carrying out building or engineering works or the change of use of a building or land without planning permission;
  • carrying out development not in accordance with a planning permission. This can be either failure to follow the approved plans or failure to comply with conditions attached to the permission;
  • carrying out works (internal as well as external) to a listed building without listed building consent;
  • the display of a sign or advertisement without advertisement consent;
  • the unauthorised felling or carrying out of works to a tree which is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or which is within a Conservation Area; and
  • the unauthorised demolition of a building within a Conservation Area.

In addition the Council has power to act where land has become so untidy that it harms the amenity of the surrounding area.

Examples of things which are not usually breaches

The following are examples of activities, which are not normally breaches of planning control, and, therefore it is unlikely that enforcement action can be taken under planning legislation:

On street parking is a matter for regulation under the Highways Acts. 

  • Operating a business from home where the residential use remains the primary use, no staff are employed there, and visitors are kept to a minimum.
  • Stationing a caravan within the grounds of a dwelling provided that its use is ancillary to the dwelling i.e. it is stored or used as an extra bedroom.
  • Clearing land of undergrowth, bushes and trees provided they are not subject to a Tree Preservation Order and are not within a Conservation Area, or protected by a planning condition.

Common breaches

Breaches of planning control often occur in respect of:

  • changes of use, such as shops to offices or takeaways;
  • building works;
  • unauthorised advertisements;
  • erection of fencing; and
  • alterations to listed buildings including the installation of UPVC windows.

Time limits

Four years is the time allowed to take enforcement action where the breach comprises either: operational development, change of use to use as a single dwellinghouse, or breach of a condition preventing change in use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse.

Ten years is the time allowed to take enforcement action for all other breaches of planning control.

Criminal offences

The following unauthorised breaches of planning control are criminal offences:

  • carrying out unauthorised works to listed buildings;
  • displaying unauthorised advertisements; and
  • works to protected trees.

The carrying out of development without the necessary planning permission, although not an offence per se may have implications or consequences. The Council's officers will therefore need to consider these implications and consequences in order to determine whether the Council should take enforcement action and, if so, what action to take.