Planning enforcement

What is planning enforcement and report it

When protecting the environment, planning enforcement is an important part of the planning process.

It's not always a criminal offence to carry out development without planning permission - but it may be a breach of planning law. We, as the local planning authority, have the power to enforce that law.

Planning law can be very complicated. This webpage is only a guide to the enforcement procedures, and our powers.

We see enforcement action as a crucial part of controlling development. All reports of possible breaches of planning control are taken seriously and are investigated as quickly as possible. This is in accordance with a priority system.

Examples of planning control breaches

  • Certain changes of use of land or buildings (for example, from a house to a shop)
  • Carrying out of development not in accordance with the approved plan(s)
  • Not complying with conditions of a planning permission
  • The erection of certain buildings without permission

Please note that within residential gardens, there are certain rights to erect small buildings and extensions without planning permission. This is known as 'permitted development'. For further information, visit Planning Portal's website.

Examples of planning control breaches that involve a criminal offence, and may result in prosecution

  • Carrying out works to a listed building, without listed building consent
  • Displaying certain signs or advertisements, without advertisement consent
  • Works to a tree (subject to a Tree Preservation Order) or a mature tree in a conservation area

What are not considered planning control breaches?

  • Land ownership or boundary disputes
  • Parking of commercial vehicles on the highway, in residential areas, or on grass verges
  • Operating a business from home, where residential use remains the main use and there is no major impact on residential neighbours
  • Parking a caravan within the garden of a house (provided it is being used for a purpose associated with the main house). This means that it is being stored, or used as another room
  • Clearing land of undergrowth, bushes and trees (provided they are not protected, not within a conservation area, or protected by a planning condition)

If you would like to report something that you believe is a possible breach of planning regulations, you can submit a planning enforcement report.

We cannot accept anonymous reports.

If you want to provide general feedback about our enforcement service, please contact us

When you make a report - or are enquiring about a possible breach of planning - you will need to supply the following information:

  • The exact location of the alleged breach
  • Details of the alleged breach
  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address (this information will remain confidential)

Report a planning breach

Joint Local Planning Enforcement Plan

The Babergh and Mid Suffolk draft Joint Local Planning Enforcement Plan (JLPEP) went to Full Council in March 2023 and the final version is published below.

The changes and improvements to the JLPEP include the following:

  • Streamlining the document using plain English where possible and removing much of the technical language to make it easier to follow,
  • Providing a clearer insight into what planning enforcement is and what it seeks to achieve,
  • Provide a clearer picture on what people can expect when using the service,
  • Explaining when the Council can take formal action and when they cannot,
  • Providing a flowchart of an example case, so you can better understand what is involved when investigating a case.

The development of this new enforcement plan draws on examples of best practice in the profession and aligns to related transformation activity which has been continuing within the planning enforcement service.

JLPEP - Final version May 2023 (adopted)

Appendix A - Prioritisation Strategy – September 2023

Appendix B - Planning Enforcement Workflow – Public Version 2023

Enforcement Register

The Register holds information on the Notices issued and served by the Councils. 

Not all Notices that the Councils can serve under the law are made available to the public. Only:

  • Enforcement Notices
  • Stop Notices
  • Breach of Condition Notices

must be available for viewing by law.

If you would like to view an Enforcement Notice, Stop Notice or Breach of Condition Notice, please make an appointment. You can do this by phoning 01449 724560 or emailing Planning Enforcement

Investigations of planning control breaches

If there has been a breach of planning control, we will tell you about this as soon as possible. We will also let you know about the steps you can take to correct the situation.

If we believe that there has been a breach, our Enforcement Officer will normally issue you with a planning contravention notice. This will ask you for further information, which we can then use to confirm whether a breach has occurred.

You may be prosecuted if:

  • you, as the subject person, do not provide us with the answers that we need
  • you deliberately provide an answer that is known to be untrue

Where a breach of planning control has been found, you will be given a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation. However, we will not always wait until an application has been submitted, before we consider enforcement action.

Enforcement notices

We would rather resolve any planning control breaches, without the need for formal action. However, if the breach remains, we may have to begin enforcement proceedings. This may happen via an enforcement notice - or in some cases, by immediate prosecution.

Failure to comply with an enforcement notice may result in a prosecution at the magistrate's court. It may also result in civil proceedings, that can cause an injunction to be issued.

In some cases, if you not comply with an enforcement notice, we may use our own contractors to carry out any works needed. If we have to do this, the total cost of the works will be charged to the landowner.

Appeal an enforcement notice

The government have published guidance on their website named Appeal an enforcement notice. The guidance provides information about how you can appeal an enforcement notice, and when.

Planning Portal have also published information about enforcement appeals on their website.

Hedgerow regulations and report issues

If a hedgerow is on, or runs alongside:

  • agricultural land
  • common land (this includes town or village greens)
  • land used for forestry; or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies and donkeys
  • a local nature reserve, or a Site of Special Scientific Interest

you will need permission to remove all or part of it.

Hedgerow regulations do not apply to any hedgerow that marks the boundary of, or is within the curtilage of, a dwelling house.

Apply for permission to remove a hedgerow

The easiest way to apply for permission to remove a hedgerow is online, via Planning Portal.

You will be able to submit any relevant plans and drawings alongside your application. (Attachments must be in PDF format).

You can also still apply for permission by filling out a paper copy of the application form, and posting it to us.

You can download a copy of the application form via Planning Portal's Paper Form Chooser.

High Hedges

If you are having difficulty with the height of a neighbour's hedge, advice and guidance on how to resolve the dispute is available.

The government have published Over the Garden Hedge, which provides guidance on how to settle your hedge differences without involving us.

If you do not have any success, we may be able to help you. However, the process that is outlined in Over the Garden Hedge must be attempted, before you report your complaint to us.

The government have also published High hedges: complaining to the council. This guidance provides more information about the powers we, as a local authority, have in these situations.

If, following this guidance, you are confident that we could investigate and assist with your complaint, you may submit a high hedges report.

The report has a fee of £350, which must be paid when you submit your report.

If we decide that the contents of your reports does not meet our criteria, we will issue a refund.

Submit a high hedges report