Unauthorised development

In most cases, when somebody wants to develop a piece of land or a building (including changing its use), planning permission is required. A development without planning permission is known as an 'unauthorised development'.

Examples of situations when a person would be considered to be in breach of planning control, include:

  • developing a site without the planning permission needed
  • having obtained planning permission/listed building consent/advertisement consent but not meeting the conditions or legal agreement placed on the permission/consent (this may result in any permission/consent being void)
  • having obtained planning permission/consent, but undertaking the development not in accordance with the approved plans/details

It is important to note that most breaches of planning control are not criminal offences. However, the exceptions to these are when you:

  • carry out external or internal works to a listed building without listed building consent
  • display a sign, banner or an advertisment of any kind without advertisement consent

In these situations, we can take legal action which could result in prosecution proceedings and a criminal record.

Our approach to unauthorised development

The advice we use to make decisions about unauthorised development is contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which was introduced by the government in March 2012 and replaced previous national guidance on enforcement.  Since then the government has produced a Planning Practice Guidance document "ensuring effective enforcement", published in March 2014, updated in 2019, which provides the main background regarding breaches of planning control.

As a local authority, we will use the legislative powers granted to us under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, the Building Act 1984 and Building Regulations 2000, including all other subordinate legislation, to control unauthorised development.