Planning Enforcement

If you undertake development without planning permission or do not adhere to the approved plans or conditions imposed on any permission then you are at risk that the Council will take action against you.

The Council attaches significant importance to planning enforcement and will take appropriate action when normal controls are breached. If those who have undertaken unauthorised works are not willing to cooperate with the Council when these works are identified and to regularise matters then the Council will proceed to formal action.

Breach of planning control

Breaches of control can take a number of forms, including:

  • Building works or alterations without planning permission or not following approved plans or conditions
  • Unauthorised works to listed buildings
  • Unauthorised changes of use of land or buildings
  • Unauthorised work to protected trees or trees in conservation areas
  • The display of advertisements, including hoardings, banners and signs on land without the necessary consents

Permitted Development

Not all development, however, requires planning permission. Often building works or changes of use will be 'permitted development', meaning that they do not need the formal approval of the council. The enforcement team will be unable to take any action in these situations.

Other circumstances where the Planning enforcement team will not be able to act include:

  • Internal works to buildings which are not listed
  • The operation of a business from home where the main use is still residential and there is no change to the character of the property or the surrounding area
  • Works to or the removal of trees which are not covered by a tree preservation order or located in a conservation area
  • Disputes between neighbours relating to land ownership or the establishing of boundaries

Reporting Unauthorised Activities

You can report a suspected breach of planning control using our Planning Enforcement Reporting Form.

The Planning Enforcement Team will then follow the procedures set out in our Planning Enforcement Plan and advise you of the outcome of their investigations as soon as possible.

The Plan sets out the priority that the Council will attach to enforcement matters and the associated timescales for the initial stages of investigation work.”  Importantly the Planning Enforcement Plan sets out that issues that are reported to the Council as a potential breach of planning control, will be subject to an initial review process to assess whether the matter is of such harm to justify an investigation.

An investigation file will only be opened if that assessment concludes that this is the case. If an investigation is commenced thereafter it will be processed in accordance with the priorities set out in the Planning Enforcement Plan. This means that issues that are likely to cause the most significant harm in planning terms will be afforded the most priority; cases that have the potential to cause some harm, but where this is likely to be of less significance, will be afforded less priority.

You will be advised as to the outcome of the initial assessment as soon as possible after a decision is made.
Planning enforcement investigations take varying lengths of time according to their complexity and in some cases they are protracted. Therefore the Planning Enforcement Plan does not set timescales for their completion. However, the Enforcement Team will endeavor to keep you updated as to progress. This will not involve regular contact but will focus on periodic updates detailing progress.

Anonymous requests

The Council will not deal with an anonymous complaint unless the report is supported by at least one of the following:

  • a Councillor (District, Town or Parish) who represents the ward (or town/ parish) within which the site is located
  • the town or parish clerk of the town or parish council in which the site is located

If your request is made by phone, or you can be contacted, you will be advised to seek the support of one of the above. If you cannot be contacted (for example, you phoned but only a message was passed to the enforcement team or an unaddressed letter is received) then the appropriate District Councillor will be contacted on your behalf. East Herts Council will not contact the appropriate parish or town council for support.

If no secondary support to the request can be achieved, then the request will not be logged and no further investigation will take place.

High Hedge complaints

Information about high hedges can be found on the Planning Portal website and in High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure [768KB] .

To complain about a high hedge, this is a chargeable service of £515. If you are receiving benefits you may be eligible for a discount. Please complete our High Hedges Complaint Form [199KB]