Planning enforcement

Planning control regulates the development and use of land to make sure that changes to our physical surroundings - buildings and land - are right for their purposes and location. Planning enforcement investigates alleged breaches of planning control.

If you suspect a breach of planning control, you can complete the general enquiries online form.  We cannot accept verbal or anonymous complaints. We’ll acknowledge your complaint when we get it. Investigations will be carried out and we’ll tell you what action, if any, is being, or will be taken:

Formal action

Generally this is the issue of a formal notice, such as:

  • planning contravention notice
  • breach of condition notice
  • enforcement notice
  • stop notice
  • injunction

These notices need information to be provided, or need work to be carried out, or an activity to stop to put right a breach of planning control.

Once a notice is served

The requirements, stated in the notice, must be complied with, or where appropriate an appeal is made against the notice. Some notices are not subject to an appeal.

Illegal breach of planning control

There are cases, which can lead to court action, such as:

  • non-compliance with a formal notice
  • unauthorised works to a listed building
  • display of an unauthorised sign
  • unauthorised works to a protected tree
  • unauthorised work to a tree in a conservation area

How we handle a breach of control

We aim to protect and enhance the environment where we live and work. We also aim to sort out breaches of planning control, where possible, without having to start formal enforcement proceedings. Somerset West and Taunton Council will not overlook wilful breaches of planning legislation. We will exercise discretion to take enforcement action when necessary. Complainants should also realise that it might not be the right course to take action in every case. We have a duty to both a complainant and the alleged offender. We will try to address any issues fairly and without bias. If you are not happy with the way the matter has been handled we have our complaints procedure. You can report the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

What we will not do

There are times when we may decide not to use enforcement powers. These include:

  • complaints about unauthorised development or uses not received in writing
  • boundary disputes between neighbours
  • property and land ownership issues not planning related
  • complaints received anonymously about unauthorised development or uses. We will NOT investigate anonymous complaints unless there are special circumstances that would override the normal policy
  • persistent complaints about unauthorised development or uses which have previously been investigated and a conclusion reached
  • vexatious or malicious complaints about unauthorised development or uses
  • complaints about unauthorised developments or uses which are better dealt with by another organisation or agency
  • breaches of covenants between landowners
  • competition between businesses

When a complaint is received about one or more of listed areas or is about an issue not covered by the planning system we will write to the complainant and explain why we can’t get involved.