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Purbeck District Council Planning Enforcement

We investigate alleged breaches of planning control. We give answers to frequently asked questions and links to policies, enquiry forms and useful information.

Are breaches of planning control illegal?

In most cases, breaches of planning control are not illegal but can be contrary to planning law. The exceptions are unauthorised works to listed buildings, unauthorised works on trees with a preservation order, unauthorised advertisements and non-compliance with enforcement notices.

How will the council resolve a breach of planning control?

The council has set out how it deals with planning enforcement through its adopted policy. The Planning Enforcement Policy (pdf, 347kb) (opens in a new window) also sets out what we will and will not investigate as part of a planning enforcement case. Where possible, we will seek to resolve breaches of planning control through negotiation. As a last resort the council may decide that it needs to use its planning enforcement powers if the breach in planning control is causing harm.

Can works be carried out without planning permission?

Some development may not need planning permission because planning law allows work or uses to be carried out through permitted development rights. You can find further information via the planning portal interactive house (opens in a new window), on the permitted development in Purbeck webpage. or The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (opens in a new window).

Does the council enforce against all breaches of planning control?

The council does not take enforcement action against all breaches of planning control. If the breach is not considered to be harmful then the investigation may be closed and no further action taken. The land or property owner can elect to submit a planning application to retain the unauthorised works. The fact that the works were unauthorised has no bearing upon how the council determines the application.

How does the council deal with breaches that are causing harm?

Where a breach of planning control is causing harm and there is no other way of resolving this harmful impact, the council may decide to take enforcement action. In most cases this will involve serving a planning enforcement notice. The notice will specify what is required to remedy the breach or mitigate the harm. There is a right of appeal against enforcement notices to the planning inspectorate. Whenever an enforcement notice is served, it is recorded in the council's enforcement register.  This is available to view at the council offices in Wareham.

How do I request that the council looks at my enquiry?

Submit an enforcement enquiry

If you are concerned about the way land is being used or the way building work is being carried out, you must complete our online form. No action will be taken without the submission of this form.  After we have received your completed form we will decide how we will take the enquiry forward. It may be possible to answer your query without visiting the site. This is generally a desk based review of the issue. If we feel that more information is needed to resolve the matter, we may decide to open a case - this normally involves visiting the site and talking to the people who own or occupy the land. An officer will acknowledge receiving your enquiry. Please ensure you provide as much information as possible. This will help us look into the matter and will cut down the time it takes us to resolve your enquiry.

Will my details be kept confidential?

If you decide to write to the council, your details will be treated in confidence. If the council needs to rely on information that you have recorded or observed, officers may ask you to participate in a planning appeal or a court case. It will not be possible to maintain your confidentially during these processes.

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