Planning enforcement

Information about planning enforcement and how to report possible unauthorised building works

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and Planning and Compensation Act 1991 provide specific powers of enforcement against breaches of planning control.

Our Projects and Compliance Team investigate potential breaches of planning control and take enforcement action where necessary. The Planning Enforcement Plan 2021 (PDF) sets out our approach to dealing with breaches of planning control in Three Rivers District.

Planning breaches

Activities that breach planning control include:

  • an unauthorised change in the use of land
  • displaying an unlawful advertisement
  • carrying out unauthorised works on a listed building
  • unauthorised demolition in a conservation area
  • unauthorised works on trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or in a conservation area
  • the unauthorised stationing of a caravan or mobile home
  • breaching the conditions attached to planning permissions
  • not building in accordance with the approved plans of planning permissions
  • not properly maintaining land, resulting in harm to the amenity of the area
  • unauthorised engineering works (e.g. changes in ground levels)
  • the failure to comply with an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

The following are not breaches of planning control:

  • developments that are a ‘permitted development’ under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment No 2) Order 2008
  • hours of construction works, unless there is a specific planning condition stipulating the hours
  • operating a business from home where the residential use remains the primary use and there is no adverse impact on residential amenity
  • internal works to a non-listed building
  • the obstruction of a highway or public right of way
  • parking commercial vehicles on the highway in residential areas or on grass verges
  • parking a caravan within the residential boundary of a property, provided it is ancillary to the dwelling
  • clearing land of overgrowth, bushes and non-protected trees
  • boundary disputes or disputes about ownership
  • high hedge disputes
  • deeds and covenants (which are a private matter)
  • trespass on land
  • health and safety issues

Report possible unauthorised works

Please report suspected breaches of planning control to us.

Report unauthorised works

If you are unable to log a report online, please contact the department via 01923 776611 or email

We have a duty to investigate complaints about possible unauthorised developments and take enforcement action where necessary. For more information, see our Planning Enforcement Plan 2021 (PDF).

Enforcement notices are a public register and can be viewed on our Planning Online System.

Important note: we cannot investigate anonymous complaints. However, all complainant details are kept confidential and are exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.