Planning Enforcement - Notices & Orders

There are several different types of planning enforcement actions that may be taken by a local planning authority. These include planning contravention notices, enforcement notices and stop notices. But how does planning enforcement actually work? Why might you get a notice in the first place? And most importantly, what should you do if you receive one?  

At Kingsley Smith we are here to help and provide answers to your questions. Read on for expert planning enforcement guidance from our specialist planning lawyers. Or, if you’d like to speak to us today call 01634 811118. Alternatively, you can make an online enquiry or send us an email at

Planning enforcement is made up of actions taken by a local council (or sometimes a court) when a building or structure has been developed in breach of planning controls. These actions involve notices and orders being issued to the individual who is seen to be at fault. We will look at these planning enforcement measures in more detail. 


Planning Enforcement Orders explained 

Planning enforcement is the process of investigating and resolving possible breaches of planning control. When a building or structure is built without planning permission or in breach of a condition attached to a planning permission, the owner may receive a Planning Enforcement Notice.

What is a Planning Enforcement Notice? 

A Planning Enforcement Notice is a legal document served by local council officers that informs the individual concerned of the reasons why their development is in breach of planning control, and requires steps to be taken within a specified timeframe to remedy that breach.


What are planning enforcement orders?

Planning Enforcement Orders are legal documents made by a Magistrates’ Court in response to an application by a local council. They enable a local authority to take action in relation to a breach of planning control even if the time limits for doing so may have expired. They arise where there has apparently been deliberate concealment of an unauthorised development.

The application may be made within 6 months, starting with the date on which sufficient evidence of the apparent breach came to the local planning authority’s knowledge. The appropriate officer must sign a certificate on behalf of the authority which states the date on which that evidence came to the local planning authority’s knowledge, and the certificate will be conclusive evidence of that fact.

The application must be made to a magistrates’ court and a copy must be served on the owner and occupier of the land, and on anyone else with an interest in the land which, in the local planning authority’s opinion, would be materially affected by the taking of enforcement action in respect of the breach. The applicant, any person who has been served with the application, and any other person the court thinks has an interest in the land that would be materially affected by the enforcement action have a right to appear before, and be heard by, the court hearing the application.


Different Planning Enforcement Notice types

There are several types of Planning Enforcement Notices that can be issued to building developers. Depending on which law you have breached, a specific notice is issued. 

Here are some of the most common Planning Enforcement Notices that are issued. Click on the buttons below to learn more about each notice.  

Enforcement Notices

Enforcement Notices are documents served by a local council to an individual that has breached planning control. Enforcement Notices detail how the developed structure has breached planning control and what needs to be done to fix the problem. 

Stop Notices

A Stop Notice orders an individual to cease any or all of the activities which are the cause of any breaches of planning control detailed in the related enforcement notice. They can require cessation in advance of the deadline for compliance with the Enforcement Notice. They cannot be served independently of an Enforcement Notice.

Planning Contravention

Planning Contravention Notices are documents that are served when the council requires more information about the development that is thought by the local authority to be a breach of planning control.

Breach of Condition Notices

If you fail to comply with a condition in a planning permission partially or completely, you may receive a Breach of Condition Notice from your local planning authority. This will need careful attention and prompt action to ensure that it does not have a major impact on your development. Unlike an Enforcement Notice, there is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice – so the only remedy is an application for judicial review in the High Court.

Tree Preservation Order

Trees and Tree Preservation Orders can often cause significant problems when it comes to planning a new development on your land. The subject is covered by cases and legislation and can provide a useful tool for objectors to schemes for development. We can assist with any queries you might have about trees and legal protections against tree damage.


Who can issue a Planning Enforcement Order?     

Only the Magistrates’ Court can issue a Planning Enforcement Order, and only if a local planning authority applies for one. A copy of the application will be served on the owner and occupier of the land, and anyone else who might be materially affected by taking enforcement action. This will enable those served with the application to appear in Court to resist the making of a Planning Enforcement Order.

By contrast, an Enforcement Notice and the other enforcement measures can be undertaken without the involvement of the Court.

What powers do planning enforcement officers have?  

Planning enforcement officers may make site visits to assess developments that are claimed to be in breach of planning control and institute planning enforcement action where appropriate. Enforcement officers have a legal right of entry to investigate alleged breaches of planning law. If entry is refused, a warrant may be obtained. 


Planning enforcement: who is liable?

You might receive a Planning Enforcement Notice if you have:

  • Not sought planning permission for building work that requires official permission (including; listed buildings, advertisements, protected trees, solar panels or building extensions).
  • Not carried out works in accordance with a permission.
  • Not complied with planning conditions or other limitations.

Changing the use of a site or buildings without obtaining planning permission when it is needed may leave you liable for planning enforcement action. 

Kingsley Smith Solicitors: planning enforcement experts

At Kingsley Smith Solicitors we’re experts in dealing with planning enforcement. Whether you’ve just received a Planning Enforcement Notice or you think you might get one, we can help you. 

If you’d like to talk to us about planning enforcement and how it might affect you call us on 01634 811 118 or complete our online enquiry form.

If you want to appeal a Planning Enforcement Notice click the button below.