It is not a criminal offence to carry out development at most properties without obtaining planning permission first. If a building is listed however, it is a criminal offence to carry out works that extend, alter, demolish etc any part of the building.
If an enforcement notice is served requiring the removal of an unauthorised development, it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the requirements of the notice in the time given.
In many cases, you do not need to apply for planning permission to replace the windows in a residential property, or to add new windows or install roof lights at the property, even if the property falls within a Conservation Area.
If a property is listed however, listed building consent would be required.
In some cases, Permitted Development Rights, which allow people to insert new windows/roof lights, may have been removed, in which case you would need to apply for planning permission. It is always advisable to check with the Planning Department before you carry out such work.
A property owner can usually use a room in their property as a home office, without needing to apply for planning permission. The Planning Department cannot become involved in and has no power to take action regarding matters relating to the content of your deeds. If a neighbour has done something which you think is prohibited or restricted by the deeds, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.
The Planning Department unfortunately does not have any powers to deal with matters such as this that are occurring on the public highway. If an obstruction of the highway is being caused by the activity, the police should be contacted. In some circumstances the Council’s Highways Department may be able to investigate.
Similarly, if your neighbour constructs a fence or wall over a public footpath or a public right of way, the Planning Department does not have the power to take any action in respect of the encroachment. The Council’s Highways Department may be able to investigate development that appears to encroach onto a public footpath, and the Countryside and Rights of Way Department may be able to look into any alleged obstruction of a public right of way.
The Planning Department can only investigate an alleged unauthorised boundary wall or fence if it exceeds Permitted Development height restrictions. The Planning Portal website has further information about Permitted Development Rights.
The Planning Department cannot become involved in matters relating to boundary disputes or allegations of trespass onto your property. If an extension is constructed on a neighbour’s property but you believe part of it has been built on your land, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter. Similarly, if a neighbour has erected scaffolding on your property to enable them to construct an extension, the Planning Department does not have any power to take action.
The Planning Department cannot become involved in and has no power to take action regarding matters relating to access rights. If a neighbour has fenced off part of their garden or a shared private drive over which you believe you have a right of access, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor/legal advisor about how to pursue the matter.
The Planning Department does not have the power to stop building work in most cases. In the case of alleged unauthorised development at a residential property such as the construction of a garage/conservatory/outbuilding, it is highly unlikely that the Planning Department would have the power to stop the development.
In exceptionally rare circumstances there is the power to serve a notice requiring that unauthorised development is stopped but strict criteria must be met, and these criteria are not met frequently.