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All bin collections following a bank holiday will take place 1 day late from 27 May to 1 June. See our Bank holiday bin collection page for further details.

Planning enforcement

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1. Enforcement action

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 breach of planning online form below. First, check to see if any permission exists for the development you wish to report. You can do this on our website using our Search for a Planning Application form.

If you still suspect a breach, then please use our Report a Breach of Planning Control form.

Please note planning enforcement will not deal with:

  • Boundary disputes between neighbours (including party wall issues)
  • Property and land ownership issues (including loss of value to property)
  • Complaints received anonymously
  • Persistent complaints about unauthorised development or uses which have previously been investigated and a conclusion reached
  • Vexatious or malicious complaints
  • Breaches of covenants between landowners


Planning Enforcement Plan

Our Planning Enforcement Plan sets out our priorities for investigations about planning enforcement matters, explains what will be investigated, our policies and procedures when investigating and remedying breaches, and outlines our general powers regarding planning enforcement.


Planning Enforcement Complaint Procedure

To make sure that we effectively investigate alleged breaches of planning control, we will typically undertake the following if appropriate to the case:

  • Record details of all complaints (except anonymous complaints)
  • Advise the person who made the complaint about the outcome of our investigations, and when we close the case
  • Assess whether there has been a breach of planning control
  • Carry out consultations, site visits or write to people with an interest in the land
  • Invite a retrospective planning application or require the removal or alterations of the breach, if appropriate

Our investigations will usually conclude:

  • No breach of planning has taken place.
  • A breach has occurred, but we do not consider it expedient to take enforcement action.
  • A breach has occurred, and a planning application has been submitted.
  • There is a breach, and we decide it is expedient and necessary to take formal enforcement action.

Complainant’s details will not be disclosed without their knowledge and agreement unless we are legally required to do so.

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. Exeter City Council will not overlook wilful breaches of planning legislation, but we will exercise discretion and only take formal enforcement action when it is expedient and necessary. 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 unhappy with how the matter has been handled, we have a formal complaints procedure.

You can also report the issue to the Local Government Ombudsman.


Formal Action

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

  • Planning Contravention Notice
  • Breach of Condition Notice
  • Enforcement Notice
  • Stop Notice

These notices are usually served when all other avenues of ceasing or remedying the breach have been exhausted. Once a Notice is served, the Notice must be complied with or appealed within the specified time. Some Notices are not subject to an appeal process. If an appeal against the Notice is allowed, the case will be closed, providing any conditions on the appeal are subsequently complied with.

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/advertisement
  • Unauthorised works to a protected tree
  • Unauthorised work to a tree in a Conservation Area

Please see our Statutory Register of Planning Enforcement Notices.