Planning breaches and enforcement

A planning 'breach' (also known as a breach of planning control) is where development has been carried out that breaks planning rules.

This could be where permission is required but hasn't been granted, or permission has been granted but the development doesn't comply with it.

For example:

  • a building has been put up, or use of the building has changed without planning permission (or listed building consent)
  • a development does not comply with conditions that were set as part of the planning consent
  • the development hasn't been carried out in accordance with the approved plans 
  • a protected tree has been cut down or pruned without permission

These are just a few examples, there are many other ways that a breach of planning control can occur.

Reporting a planning breach

Let us know if you suspect that a planning breach has occurred.

We will need to know what has taken place, the location and when it happened. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for us to investigate the issue. 

Report a planning breach


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What we need from you

You can report a breach of planning control through our online form, by email to, or in writing. You can also report a breach through your local councillor or MP.

You must provide your name and contact details - if you report a breach online you will need to set up a My Chesterfield account. We will keep your information confidential, and your identity will not be disclosed unless we ask you to give evidence in court.

Please provide a clear statement of what you think is wrong, and who is involved. You may be asked to provide photographs and records of the activities that have taken place (or are still ongoing), however we won't ask you to 'spy' on your neighbour.

Where possible please assist us in trying to investigate the problem.

What we will do

We will investigate to find out if the development has resulted in a breach of planning control. If your report alleges a danger to the public or damage to a protected site or building, we aim to carry out a preliminary investigation and consider action on the day the report is received.

If we find that a breach of planning control has occurred, we will usually give the landowner the chance to put it right without taking formal action. This can be by:

  • submitting a retrospective planning application for the work being carried out
  • removing the unauthorised development or reinstating the original property
  • stopping the works that are being carried out

Where the problem can't be resolved informally, we can take formal enforcement action. Some planning breaches may also be criminal offences.

Enforcement cases may take some time to resolve, particularly if they involve a planning appeal or a court hearing. We will keep you informed of likely timescales - please be patient if proceedings seem to be taking a long time.

In some cases the breach may be minor and no further action will be taken. 

What can developers or property owners expect from us?

If we receive a complaint about your development or property we may visit the site. We will also contact you to discuss our findings and to seek your views on the complaint received. We will confirm our findings to you in writing and we will make clear what we expect you to do.

Where necessary and feasible we will try and negotiate a satisfactory solution. If we consider that an unauthorised development may be likely to gain approval, we will invite you to submit a retrospective planning application. As a last resort, if a negotiated solution cannot be achieved, we may take formal enforcement action which can result in prosecution. 

What do we ask of developers and property owners?

We ask you to work with us to resolve any problems.

Please co-operate with us in allowing us to visit the site of the complaint to discuss the matter with you - we can't help you resolve a breach of planning control without an 'open book' approach.

If the complaints are valid, please work with us to try and achieve an acceptable solution, and supply any information we request within the specified timescale.

To avoid breaching planning rules you should not depart from approved plans or planning conditions without first obtaining formal approval.

If you proceed or continue with any unauthorised development this is done at the developer/landowner's own risk.

How is formal enforcement action taken?

If as a last resort we pursue formal enforcement action, the following types of notice may be served.


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Last updated on 28/02/2024