Planning complaints and enforcement

Service information

What do you want to do?

All complaints reported are treated as confidential.

On receipt of a complaint we will;

  • Acknowledge the complaint in writing or by email. This will include the investigating officer details.
  • Visit the site in line with the priority categories outlined earlier to establish whether or not there has been a breach of planning control.
  • Update complainant of progress during and at the conclusion of investigations.

Planning control breaches

Planning law can be extremely complicated; this document is designed only to be a guide.

A breach of planning control occurs when development such as building works or a material change of use of land or a building takes place without planning permission.

In most cases it is not an offence to undertake development without consent, but the Council does have the powers to remedy such breaches.

This can be done by for instance requiring changes to be made, getting the development removed or the use stopped, or in some cases giving planning permission.

Examples of breaches of planning control could include:

  • Not building in accordance with approved plans.
  • Failing to comply with conditions attached to a planning permission.
  • Unauthorised works to a listed building.
  • Display of an advertisement without the benefit of advertisement consent.
  • Removing or lopping/topping trees either protected by a Tree Preservation Order or sited within a Conservation Area.

Works which are not breaches of planning control could include:

  • Internal works to a non listed building
  • Change of use from a clothes shop to a grocers (both within same use class (A1 Shops))
  • Operating a business from home, where the residential use remains the primary use and there is no adverse effect on neighbouring amenities
  • Where the works being carried out are permitted development, i.e. planning permission is not required.

Complaint investigations

All reports of alleged breaches of planning control received by the Development Monitoring & Enforcement Team are taken seriously and are investigated as quickly as possible in line with a priority system, that system being:

Category 1

Visited within 24 hours includes:

  • works to listed buildings,
  • demolition within conservation areas,
  • works to trees either covered by tree preservation orders or within conservation areas
  • any works considered to be causing significant and immediate harm to amenity.

Category 2

Visited within 10 working days includes:

  • changes of use,
  • ongoing building developments,
  • breaches of planning conditions,
  • illegal advertisements.


All complaints are treated as confidential. Names and addresses will not be divulged to anyone involved in the alleged breach. However on certain rare occasions the matter may progress to a prosecution, and as such the complainant may be asked to appear as a witness.

Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated.


The Council will only take enforcement action when it is considered expedient to do so. Formal action will not be undertaken purely to regularise breaches of planning control. In deciding whether to take enforcement action the Council will take into consideration the Core Strategy which forms part of the Councils Local Development Framework and all relevant Government Circulars and guidance notes.

In considering expediency the Council must look at whether or not the breach unacceptably affects public amenity, existing land uses and buildings which merits protection is in the public interest or the natural environment. Any action taken will always be proportional to the breach of planning control to which it relates.

Where the breach has been considered acceptable in planning terms, the person responsible will be asked to submit a retrospective planning application to regularise the situation. Formal action will not be taken against technical or trivial breaches of planning control which have no material effect on amenity

Local Enforcement Plan 2017​

This document is the Council’s response to the NPPF and sets out how the Council investigates alleged cases of unauthorised development, what action it will take when appropriate to do so and the monitoring it will carry out of the implementation of planning permissions. It aims to give guidance on what we can do and how we balance the demands on our services against the resources available to us. It should be noted that planning law can be very complicated and this document is only a guide.​

Contact details

Mail Planning Service, Old Town Hall, Blackburn, BB1 7DY
Phone Number(s) 01254 585960
Fax Number(s)  
Extra Information
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