Types of enforcement action

If negotiations are unsuccessful, we may have no choice but to take formal enforcement action.

We can serve a number of different notices, depending on the nature of the breach. All types of notices require you to take action to put the situation right, and failing to do this may result in prosecution proceedings. Below is a summary of the formal action we can take.

Planning contravention notice (PCN)

A PCN is normally served at the initial investigation stage where we think a breach of planning control might have occurred. This notice requests the information we would need to correctly serve a statutory notice. Failure to respond to a PCN within 21 days is a summary offence, and a person guilty of the offence may be liable to a fine. There is no right to appeal this notice.

Breach of condition notice

This notice can be used where conditions imposed on a planning permission/consent have not been complied with. There is no right to appeal this notice.

Enforcement notice

This is the usual method of remedying unauthorised development and there is a right of appeal against the notice. The recipient must take the specified steps set out in the notice within a set time period. Failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence.

Listed building enforcement notice

The same as an enforcement notice, and only issued in relation to a listed building.  There are no time limits for issuing listed building enforcement notices.

Planning enforcement order

Where there has been deliberate concealment of a breach of planning control, we may apply to the magistrates' court for a planning enforcement order (PEO).  Where a PEO is granted we have one year and 22 days to serve an enforcement notice irrespective of how long ago the breach first occured.  The 4 year and 10 year periods for immunity do not apply.

Stop notice

The notice can be used in conjunction with an enforcement notice where the breach of planning control is causing irreparable and immediate significant harm. Where stop notices are issued, we may be liable to pay compensation if it is later decided that the issue of the notice was not appropriate. There is a right to appeal this notice.

Temporary stop notice

These take effect immediately upon issue and last for up to 28 days. A temporary stop notice will only be issued where it is appropriate that the activity or development should cease immediately to safeguard the amenity of the area. There is no right to appeal this notice.

Section 215 notice

This notice can be used in relation to land or buildings where the condition of the land or buildings is considered to be detrimental to the public and adversely affects the amenity of an area. There is a right to appeal this notice.

Completion notice

A completion notice may be served if, as the local planning authority, we are of the opinion that development (which has started within the statutory time limit for the commencement of development) will not be completed within a reasonable period. We must refer the notice to the Secretary of State for confirmation. There is a right to appeal this notice.


We can apply to the High Court or County Court for an injunction to stop work/use which is in breach of planning control. We can make an application regardless of whether we have exercised, or propose to exercise, any of our other powers to enforce planning control.

Direct action

If we have issued a notice and the requirement(s) of the notice have not been complied with, then we can carry out these works.  A legal land charge is registered on the property so we can recover all reasonable costs incurred.

Immunity from enforcement

If the owners of land or property think that a breach of planning has become immune from enforcement action, they can apply for a lawful development certificate. This is a legal document that confirms the use, operation or activity on the site as long as no further changes are made.