Planning Enforcement

How we investigate unauthorised changes to land and buildings.

Making a complaint about Planning Enforcement

The quickest way to make a complaint is using the online Planning Enforcement Complaint Form. There will be a delay in processing complaints sent by post.

To help us deal with your enquiry, please note the following information.

The Planning Department will not be able to investigate matters which are:

  • from an anonymous complainant
  • solely of a civil nature (like parking disputes, boundary disputes and issues concerning the Party Wall Act)
  • purely related to noise or other environmental disturbance (please refer to our Environmental Health Team)
  • property which appears to be unsafe (please refer to our Building Control Team)

The information in the links below may help you understand the planning process, including if a development requires planning permission.

When we can take enforcement action

We cannot accept anonymous complaints. We need to be able to verify the details of the complaint, for example the location and nature of breach.

Most cases reported to the Council are not considered to be a breach of planning control and the Enforcement Team will not be able to take action in the following circumstances:

  • when the work or change is not defined as development or legislation has already granted planning permission (known as ‘permitted development’) (Do I need Planning Permission?)
  • where an advert is not controlled or benefits from ‘deemed consent’ by the advertisement regulations
  • where breaches of planning control are immune from enforcement action because a number of years have now passed (4 years for a building or a self-contained dwelling and 10 years for change of use or breach of condition)
  • the works are considered too minor to fall under the scope of planning control (called ‘de minimis’)
  • it has been decided that it is not expedient to take enforcement action taking into account national and local policy and the specific circumstances of the case
  • because the work already has planning permission (check the Planning Register)

Short-term holiday lets 

It is not always the case that using a property for short-term holiday lets is a change of use that requires planning permission. We need to investigate each property on its own merits to determine whether a change of use has taken place.   

The investigations and enforcement team

Where a breach of planning control, causing harm, is proven the Team will seek, where possible to resolve the breach through negotiation. However, in certain circumstances the breach may require legal notices to be issued or the instigation of prosecution proceedings. Examples of the types of allegation we investigate include:

  • unauthorised extensions to a property
  • unauthorised changes in the use of land or buildings
  • unauthorised demolition of or alterations to listed buildings or buildings within a conservation area
  • breach of planning and listed building notices
  • works not in accordance with an approval or where conditions have not been complied with
  • unauthorised display of an advert
  • land or buildings which have been neglected and are significantly harmful to the area

Most investigations relate to activities which are breaches of planning control. The aim of the service is to identify and resolve any significant harm that may be caused by these breaches.

However, a small number of cases involve investigations into criminal offences. Investigations into criminal offences will be dealt with differently to that of breaches of planning control, as it involves different legislation, and you will be advised if this applies to your case. 

How to make a complaint 

Complaints are only accepted in writing through the Planning Enforcement Complaint Form  unless the complaint relates to an urgent matter, such as where the fabric of a listed building is at risk. For residents who cannot access the internet, you can phone 01273 292222 from 9:30am to 1:30pm daily (excluding weekends and bank holidays).

Most people submitting a complaint provide photographs and other evidence to assist the investigation. This can result in a quicker resolution. 
If you are concerned about an unauthorised use you will be asked to complete a diary of events. 

See our Enforcement Complaint FAQs (PDF 45KB)  for more information on how we investigate alleged breaches. We do not give out details of complainants, so your complaint will remain confidential.

Enforcement policy

Our Planning Enforcement Policy (PDF 1MB)  includes the aims and objectives of the service; the approach taken and the options available to the service; and what the complainant can expect.

Enforcement register

Details of all the formal enforcement notices issued in Brighton & Hove are published in our Enforcement Register.

The Enforcement Register is in date order. Use search to find a particular address in the document.

Our Customer Promise